'Cricketers can fill their skills gap with power of analytics': Writer Corp's Yateen Chodnekar

World Cup 2015 won’t interest Indians anymore. Much has been written about the game, India’s performance, and Virat and Anushka, but hardly anyone realised that one factor which really adds spice to the game -- analytics. It plays a key role in making not just the game of cricket but any sport in the world a fun to watch. And, who better than a technologist Yateen Chodnekar -- Group CIO at Writer Corporation – can explain how exactly analytics works in cricket. In an exclusive interview with Firstpost, Chodnekar talks about the technology aspect of his favourite sports. Excerpts from interview:

How does insightful information delivered through excellent data visualisation help you appreciate and understand cricket better?

Chodnekar: Data visualisation means different statistical points laid out to viewers on one screen or may be a part of a screen the live match is on. The visualising angle brings in the interface or touchpoints of various analytical-led analysis based on database and the data stored by statisticians. This analysis actually helps keep viewers glued to their TV screens.

 Cricketers can fill their skills gap with power of analytics: Writer Corps Yateen Chodnekar

Yateen Chodnekar, Group CIO, Writer Corporation

For example, when a change is done by Dhoni and he brings in Rohit Sharma for bowling, the data visualisation helps show how many times Rohit Sharma has provided a breakthrough and so on, which helps justifies the viewing experience of the decision made by the captain. When there is a run out, the visualisation techniques enable us to real-time put that recording into slow display, rewind, forward, and freeze a frame, so before the third umpire gives the decision we know where do we stand.

Additionally, this World Cup is using predictive analytics in order to predict games. According to them, New Zealand is going to win ICC World Cup 2015. They had already utilised this tool to predict Australia’s win against India in semi final. So, if we see the strike rate, it is pretty neat. Overall, visualisation empowers viewers with data points.

Do you see a great use of analytics in fields like sports which were once just about mere ability and talent? Do you see this levelling the playing field for sportspeople so that even those not extremely talented can use these insights to work on specific areas?

Chodnekar: Players can definitely leverage the power of analytics to improve their skills. For example, SriLankan player Muttiah Muralitharan came up with a ball popularly known as “doosra”. For bowlers who are learning, visulatisation techniques helped them understand and analyse the bowling technique used for ‘doosra’ such as how the grip is, which finger is put in, and at what pressure and so on. Hence, analytics helps players emulate, learn, and sharpen their skills.

Historically, on the scale of 0-10, the skills played a vital role and enabled the person to qualify for any game. Now, on the scale of 10, talent can be up to 6, but if he improves and polishes his skills which can be done by using visualisation techniques, will help him to fill the gap and cross great barrier.

How do analytics help improve sports management and ensure that while sports is fun, it can be good business for owners and others and thus widen its reach and scope.

Chodnekar: People are already making money out of it. There are many visualisers who have historical data of different video clips. They have classified the data based on batsman or bowler, and they sell these data to different cricket teams. For example: Australia can analyse how Harbhajan Singh bowls and his ‘doosra’ and ‘teesra’ bowling techniques from these records. This data is connected with the bowling machine, which emulates those balls. Now the machine will bowl exactly like Harbhajan. These are the classic examples of teams which are using visualisation techniques in data, and owners making huge money out of it.

How do you see analytics transforming your industry and company?

Chodnekar: Data analytics helps companies to predict the trends and the time-to-market is also reduced. It helps lessen the probability of being outdated or behind the market. Today, our solutions and techniques are tuned to market needs based on predictive analytics of the data collected from various points. And, that becomes our unique selling points.

What do you see as use cases for social sentiment analysis and predictive analysis?

Chodnekar: For social sentiments, there’s lot of vindictive trash, so the first step is to filter out trash and conflicting data. I call it as ‘purifying the data’. And then a story emerges out of analytics. Now, you build a story and share it with stakeholders and modify your solutions to take care of the story.

How does data visualisation and dashboards help your top management?

Chodnekar: Few years back, my KRA (key result areas) done by my owner change the way I operate. Historical way of operating was to do various meeting to understand what is happening. Now, as a forward-looking CIO I have given analytics and statistics tools on the table. So, the management doesn’t need to do meetings to understand what is happening; now he only does meetings to give directions. Analytics have changed the way board members operate.

Updated Date: Mar 28, 2015 15:04:28 IST