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30th April 2009

Behind the scenes at Durham…Performance Analysis

First up…what does the Performance Analyst do?

“The role of the match analyst is to use a video camera to log each ball that is bowled.  Then you attach certain information to that ball, as to where that ball pitched on the wicket, where it was going to hit and what shot was played and what runs were scored off the ball.  We then download that to the computer in the dressing room which the players and the coach can then watch back in real time so during the match, while the match is on, it’s very much watching every ball and tagging every ball so it’s ready for the players to view back after their spell or after their innings.

“They can use it as a video because it tags every ball so they can look at their off-side shots, leg-side shots, 4’s, 6’s, the types of shots, plays and misses that they’ve left so they can look at their strengths and weaknesses.  Its best use is to go back after you’ve had a good innings or a great spell and you can see what you’ve done well, watch the whole innings through and it can be motivational. We use a lot of the old video to put together highlights and videos of the individual players if they’ve done well so they can look at that before their matches.”

Do you help provide information on the opposition?

“We can get information on other players too.  It’s part of the ECB regulations that the home side log the match so equally there is footage of opposition players available prior to matches.  We’ve got good relations with a number of the other counties so we can phone them up and arrange to get a DVD of their players sent through for us to take a look at.  Phil and I tend to prepare the opposition statistical analysis.”

What software do you use?

“All counties use software called Crickstat which has been gifted by the ECB and is specifically designed with cricket in mind. Video feed comes directly into a central panel on the laptop and we then code the cricket specific detail accordingly.”

What do you do in the winter?

“We work quite extensively with the Cricket Board’s Age-Group squads and the club’s Academy programme. We use a range of software promoted by a company called Dartfish to help younger players hone their technique. We often use our own in-season footage as an example of good practice and draw on other sources of footage from international cricket.”

What skills do you need to be able to do this role?

“You have to have an understanding of the computer and the software to be able to log the ball correctly and, of course, cricket knowledge is important.  You have to be able to log the type of shot and where it went for example.  You have to be able to concentrate for a full day, you have to watch every ball so there isn’t the opportunity to get up and have a wander around the ground.  You definitely need stickability!”

The Club set up their camera for all matches – what’s it like going to other grounds?

“Provision can vary a lot, some of the grounds cater for us very well.  Ideally, it’s great to be based near the dressing room as we have a real time laptop that they can use as it gets updated every time the ball get played.  In some cases you’re not too close to the playing set up as you also need to set up near the camera so you can get a good feed to the laptop. 

“You have to be flexible, the set up can vary from ground to ground, at some places you need to set the camera up every morning, which can take up to half an hour, longer if we have to go up and down scaffolding!  .  Now we’ve been doing this for a couple of seasons we can get set up pretty quickly and then we set up the Crickstat software which entails setting up the match and inputting the players.”

Which grounds do you look forward to visiting?

“This is my fourth season so I’ve been to quite a few grounds but I always enjoy going to Trent Bridge because it’s modern and it’s got enough space for us to be in a good location.  We can set up once for the whole match and leave the cables and camera in one place so it makes it a bit easier.”

How can people get involved in Performance Analysis?

“You can do Performance Analysis courses at University now and you can do modules on Performance Analysis as part of Sports Science degrees.  I’d advise people to make the most of any voluntary opportunities they can take advantage of with local clubs.  There is basic software out there that you can start with and then move on to more detailed analysis when you’re ready. 

“It’s important to get involved with a sport you’re really interested in, if you’ve got a love for the sport and the team that you’re working with then you want to put more effort in and give them the best possible information you can.”