England women’s Ashes revival last summer inspired by key AI decision

England women’s cricket team have used the technology to provide additional insight over the last year

Sonia Twigg
Friday 03 May 2024 20:43 BST
England women’s cricket team have been using technology to influence team selection decisions
England women’s cricket team have been using technology to influence team selection decisions (Getty)

England women’s cricket team has been using AI to help with team selection, head coach Jon Lewis explained.

The women’s team announced their squad for the upcoming T20 and one-day series against Pakistan, with one eye on the T20 World Cup in Bangladesh in the autumn.

Lewis has chosen a combination of youth and experience for the matches, with the likes of Tammy Beaumont and Sophia Dunkley left out in favour of Linsey Smith and Freya Kemp.

But AI technology has played its part over the last year in the England set up, and has even affected which 11 players have taken to the field.

“There’s a company called PSI, based in London, work with Steve Borthwick and his England rugby team, and Wigan Warriors, Wigan Athletic,” Lewis explained.

He added: “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.

“I can send multiple different line-ups to the PSI in London and they run, I think about 250,000 simulations per team that I send, with all different permutations that could happen through the game.

“It’s something that is quite commonly used throughout cricket across the world in franchise cricket. I first came across it during my time at UP Warriorz in India. it’s something I looked at and thought it could add some value to the England Women’s cricket team.”

England women won the 50-over and T20 series in the Women’s Ashes last summer
England women won the 50-over and T20 series in the Women’s Ashes last summer (Getty)

Last summer, England fought back against Australia: despite losing the Test match, they won key matches in both white-ball series to ensure that the series ended in a draw, although the visitors left with the urn having won it in the preceding series.

It was a watershed moment against the all-conquering Australians who had utterly dominated women’s cricket for the best part of a decade. Alyssa Healy’s side were the T20 and 50-over World Cup champions, but it was England who triumphed 2-1 in both the white-ball formats. Lewis believes that the impact of AI in team selections might have played a part.

“I always go with a people-first approach: understanding people, understanding players, understanding where they are at in their own minds. then be supported by data and information,” the women’s head coach said.

“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 selection and match-ups. will it ever be the thing that selects a team? In my view, no. other coaches may feel very differently.

“I suppose there’s one selection particularly last year, one period of the Ashes that we targeted as a team. we saw a real strength in Australia and we matched up our strength to that.

“That worked really, really well and it helped us win the T20 series in particular, which got us back in the Ashes.

“There were a couple of selections there where AI really helped because both players I was thinking about picking were both in really good form and were both really selectable. it did help with those selections.”

England T20 squad: Heather Knight (capt), Lauren Bell, Maia Bouchier, Alice Capsey, Charlie Dean, Sophie Ecclestone, Lauren Filer, Danielle Gibson, Sarah Glenn, Bess Heath, Amy Jones, Freya Kemp, Nat Sciver-Brunt, Linsey Smith, Danielle Wyatt.

England ODI squad: Heather Knight (capt), Tammy Beaumont, Lauren Bell, Maia Bouchier, Alice Capsey, Kate Cross, Charlie Dean, Sophie Ecclestone, Lauren Filer, Sarah Glenn, Amy Jones, Nat Sciver-Brunt, Danielle Wyatt.

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