Sport Cricket Cricket Australia’s move to ‘bring in the robots’ says it all

Cricket Australia’s move to ‘bring in the robots’ says it all

Microsoft? Really? Photo: Getty
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ANALYSIS

Less than 24 hours after another Australian batting collapse on Monday, Cricket Australia signed a deal with Microsoft.

The agreement will see us become the first cricket nation to ‘enjoy’ access to the number-crunching platform full of analytics and data.

Contain your excitement, please.

The new addition is simply referred to as the ‘team and player performance platform’ and is apparently capable of evaluating form and fitness and feeding into strategy and team selection.

It is hoped that it may help reverse the woeful form of our cricket team.

So we may as well stop pretending.

Hymie the robot will be the new selector, coach and high performance manager of the Australian cricket team.

Obviously national selector Rod Marsh saw the writing on the wall and jumped this week before he was pushed.

‘Boof’ Lehmann will be next to go. There’s no place for a coach called ‘Boof’ in the new set-up.

Hymie isn’t the new appointee’s real name, but a throwback to Maxwell Smart’s robotic sidekick in the sixties’ spy spoof, Get Smart.

south africa kyle abbott
South Africa celebrating a wicket in Hobart: a familiar sight. Photo: Getty

According to CA’s tech-head, Michael Osborne, this new fan-dangled platform will crunch data to determine, scientifically, which players should be picked for each match.

Osborne doubted whether “artificial intelligence will get to the point … where it’s selecting our national team for us.”

But given that Hymie can just about do everything, it’s odds-on that selection will be left to the wonder robot.

Apparently CA’s tech-heads have so much information on player performance, they can’t get a grasp on the true state of play.

They obviously missed Monday morning at the Bellerive Oval.

The loss of 8-32 in a couple of hours would suggest things are not great, particularly after a first innings score of 85.

‘Boof’ offered an old-fashioned remedy to Australia’s batting woes: go back and play in the Sheffield Shield.

No wonder ‘Boof’ is yesterday’s man. He thinks Australia’s incompetent batting can be solved by a trip down memory lane.

The Shield is not what it used to be. CA’s scheduling has seen to that.

darren lehmann australia
Coach Darren Lehmann is under pressure. Photo: Getty

There’s no Shield players with the numbers to suggest they’ve got the ability or temperament to make it in Test cricket.

You don’t need Hymie to tell you that if you’re averaging in the high thirties or low forties in the Shield, you’re not going to be much chop internationally.

This is where the sports tech-heads come in. They know the answer is not more time in the middle.

It’s in the collection of physical, metaphysical, psychological, biomechanical and the bowel motion data that only Hymie can crunch.

That’s the problem with human intelligence. It looks for the cheap solution. You’ve got to pay big bucks for the mega-tech magic that Hymie can provide.

Once Hymie’s switch is flicked, the wonder robot will show that HI isn’t artificial enough to cut it in the new sport’s tech-head age.

Traditionalists like ‘Boof’ are stopping Australia’s cricketers from ‘moving forward’.

steve smith disappointed
Skipper Steve Smith has been let down by his players. Photo: Getty

Once Hymie is operational, Steve Smith’s suitability for the captaincy should be one of the first things tabulated, ‘moving forward’ of course.

Other than Hymie, the captaincy stocks look thin.

There’s nobody with sufficient artificial intelligence – with the possible exception of Shane Warne – to ring the bowling changes according to the number of balls bowled per unit of time.

Scientifically managed cricket is about rotating the bowlers and resting them when Hymie says they’ve had enough.

Starc in or Hazlewood out; it’ll soon be Hymie’s call.

Only Hymie can answer the big question confronting Australian cricket -will we see the eternally promising paceman, Pat Cummins, in the longer form of the game before 2020?

Congratulations to CA on this ground-breaking initiative.

It’s a wonder that CEO James Sutherland wasn’t crowing about it during his post-Test press conference rather than whinging about the team’s performance.

After all, it is a little premature to assess the performance until Hymie’s tabulated the data.

But at a rough guess, a lack of ability would seem the logical cause behind Australia’s recent losses.

And they don’t need Hymie to tell them that.

Dr Tom Heenan teaches sports studies at Monash University.

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