© Bhumesh Das
This cricket technology is changing the way coaches train players
PitchVision’s PV/One is a video-and-sensor-based technology that helps cricket coaches judge how well bowlers and batters are performing in the nets, and helps them produce better cricketers.
A modern day cricket match involves tons of technology loaded onto it, including Hawkeye, HotSpot, Snick-O-Meter, and LED bails. These technological advancements have changed the way the game has been played, how umpires officiate, and how players approach their roles.
Even the Spidercam and multi-camera recording setups used for television broadcast are used by third umpires to help them make decisions. The game as you see it is highly influenced by technology. But technology has also been changing the way cricketers have been training.
The biggest national associations have tons of training equipment based on technological advancements that help plot out a live pitch map, ball trajectory, number of times the bowler’s front footsteps over the crease, the line and length of each of their deliveries, and much more. Batters also get the full service of wagon wheels and pitch maps which tell them exactly how they struck each delivery they faced and where they placed the shot.
Most often, these technology-based training facilities were only affordable to national associations with big pockets. But just as gadgets have become more affordable, cricket technology has also become easier to purchase.
Enter PitchVision’s PV/One
PitchVision is a multinational company that works in cricket technology. They research equipment used in international cricket to develop affordable alternates that can be used by aspiring cricketers.
One of their standout technologies is the PV/One; a camera-and-sensor-based technology that can be used in training sessions to improve the performances of bowlers and batters.
PitchVision’s PV/One uses two sets of HD cameras – one focused on the batter and one focused on the bowler – along with a set of sensors at the bowling crease and a sensor-equipped pitch map for deliveries.
Between the camera and sensor equipment, the PV/One captures the consistency of the bowling action, the place where the bowler’s front foot is placed for each delivery, the line and length of each delivery, how much each delivery swings or deviates after pitching, and the pace of each delivery. These metrics are specific to bowlers.
The PV/One also helps batters since it records how they played each ball, and whether they made the correct decision to play a particular delivery on the front foot or back foot based on where it bounced on the pitch map.
The data captured by the cameras and sensors is logged into a computer software where a dashboard for each player records their own information. This information can then be used by the coach to provide individual feedback to each player, even allowing the coach not to be physically present at the training ground. Part of the PV/One setup was created to let players get access to top-level coaching anywhere in the world, as long as they could pass on the data captured by the system to a coach with the software.
“The video can be slowed down; you can draw on it and mark areas. Once the player is done playing on a PV/One active surface, he has access to data on his mobile app under his profile on the Pitch Vision Portal,” says Neil Fairbairn, Director of PitchVision Cricket.
Fairbairn says the most important aspect of video analysis in training is to give coaches a way to make use of the data. He says a simple handheld camera can also record videos, but the PV/One’s sensor technology gives coaches the right information to help them improve player performance.
“The tool tells you where the ball lands, what the trajectory is, whether the bowler is regularly hitting the top of the off-stump, etc.”
He also says the mix of video and sensors makes it an all-inclusive training tool.
“For instance, you have someone with a weird action like Paul Adams of South Africa. Watching him on TV, you can never judge how good he is. But the PV/One shows his consistency in being able to land the ball in the right areas on the pitch, so we see his quality through that,” adds Fairbairn.
The reason for creating the PV/One
Fairbairn says the PV/One fits into four cases and can be set up on any ground within 10 minutes.
He says PitchVision developed the PV/One because they realised upcoming cricketers could see advanced cricket technology being used but never had access to it. The entire PV/One set up costs Rs 3.5 lakhs, which is much less than the advanced cricket technology seen on TV.
“The likes of Hawkeye or other training systems are not accessible to large groups of players. We wanted to bring in a system available to players at grassroots levels,” explains Fairbairn.
“We wanted to bring in a technology which is affordable to the masses. The tool is designed to accelerate learning and assist coaches in increasing awareness of player performance and capabilities,” he continues.
National associations like Cricket South Africa, Bangladesh Cricket Board and Cricket Ireland, and state associations of Mumbai and Bengal have been using the PV/One. Even the ICC Global Academy has been using the system. Fairbairn hopes more academies will use the system in the near future.
“PV/One is useful for teams or academies which hope to equip their players with live data of their performances with feedback from coaches, who may not even be near them,” Fairbairn says. He adds that the PV/One has been sold in 27 countries around the world, and the PV Portal links them all together.
The PV Portal has player videos, notes on training, workload management, coach assessment and feedback, and individual player statistics. All the data is hosted on a cloud-based system, which means a cricketer in Dehradun can watch training videos by a coach in London.
PitchVision hopes the data collected for individual players on PV/One can be presented to cricket boards so the players can be scouted for upcoming leagues. The company has also been working on adapting the technology to other sports and hopes to create something similar for up-and-coming football and badminton players.