Monday, May 27, 2024

England Women’s cricket coach reveals his team use AI to help pick their team – and shares how technology helped mount last summer’s Ashes comeback

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  • Lewis first used the software during his time in the T20 Premier League in India 
  • Technology used with aplomb with the selection of off-spinner Charlie Dean 

Jon Lewis, the coach of the England women’s cricket team, has revealed he and his staff use artificial intelligence to help with selection – and made good use of the technology during last summer’s Ashes comeback against Australia.

Lewis first came across the software, produced by London-based firm PSi, while working for UP Warriorz at the T20 Women’s Premier League in India, and decided to apply its use to the England team. Other sporting sides that use the PSi technology include the national men’s rugby union team, Wigan Athletic FC and rugby league club Wigan Warriors.

‘We are able to run simulated teams versus the simulated opposition to give us an idea about how those teams may match up against each other,’ said Lewis. ‘I can send multiple different line-ups to the PSi, and they run about 250,000 simulations per team that I send, with all different permutations that could happen through the game.

With England struggling to stay in last summer’s women’s Ashes, Lewis used the technology to settle on the selection of off-spinner Charlie Dean, who was drafted in after one game of the T20 leg of the series. Heather Knight’s side won both matches in which she played, with Dean opening the bowling in the third game and removing Australian captain and opener Alyssa Healy lbw.

‘We saw a real strength in Australia, and we matched up our strength to that,’ said Lewis. ‘That worked really well and it helped us win the T20 series in particular, which got us back in the Ashes.’ The overall series ended in a draw.

Jon Lewis has shared how England have invested in artificial intelligence to aid their selections

The technology was used with aplomb during the Ashes last year, when AI identified the selection of Charlie Dean (centre)

The technology was used with aplomb during the Ashes last year, when AI identified the selection of Charlie Dean (centre)

The side went on to win the T20 series, which saw the series as a whole then end in a draw

The side went on to win the T20 series, which saw the series as a whole then end in a draw

Lewis stressed that he prefers a ‘people-first approach’, and said AI was unlikely to replace human selectors. But he added: ‘What data can do is give you a really objective view of what could happen and what has happened previously. I think it will help with borderline decisions in terms of selections and match-ups.’

The England men’s teams previously used the ‘Monte Carlo’ simulation system devised by their number cruncher and Cambridge maths graduate Nathan Leamon. Their analytical team, led for the last few years by Professor Stafford Murray, now use an in-house model data set developed by Leamon.

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