Adam Gilchrist says big data stops him from looking like ‘a goose’ when commentating

Commentators Adam Gilchrist and Damien Flemming reacting to Glenn Maxwell’s shock leave in the T20/ Sceenshot of Channel Ten.

Technology has seeped its way into most aspects of modern life – the workplace, the home, and even the sporting field – in this case cricket.

This week the ICC announced its partnership with SAP, which creates enterprise software and provides software-related services, and its plans to use big data collected through the SAP HANA Cloud Platform and SAP Lumira to change the way fans interact with the sport.

Speaking at a SAP event in Melbourne on Thursday, Australian representative cricket player, and now commentator, Adam Gilchrist spoke about how this new data is adding a new dimension to the game.

“These stats from a commentators point of view is the stuff which makes you look really good,” he said, particularly talking about the Twenty20 Big Bash league.

“There’s a lot of preparation and pre-planned statistics ready to run across the TV screen, but it all happens so quickly and it’s so unpredictable.

“Now, we get it (data) in an instant.

“It’s nice to have that statistical back up before you blurt it out on international TV, because you look could like a goose otherwise,” he admitted.

Gilchrist said access to the real-time information also enables the media and commentators to tell a story or give the viewers a more insightful explanation behind a play or a player.

For example, the World Cup match in Sydney on Wednesday was the first time an on field umpire had worn a microphone so that his decisions and reasoning behind a call were heard by the viewers.

While this creates transparency, and brings the fans closer to the action, traditionalists may see it as an intrusion of the century-old sport.

Gilchrist told Business Insider his biggest fear is that technology will eventually become so involved in the play that the sport could lose its spontaneity.

“My one big of fear of technology for the sport and in decision making is it could lose the spontaneity of the event,” he said, “losing the thrill of the dismissal”.

“I don’t want to see the euphoria, the disappointment fade out while we refer too often to the technology.

“It’s still such a new time for technology in the sport, so it’s going take trial and error and an understanding how best to utilise it”.

Gilchrist acknowledged that there have been multiple benefits that technology has provided the sport, such as the access to real-time data delivered through the SAP software.

“For the viewers at home, it takes you inside the competition in a greater fashion, be it the umpiring, decision making, the discussion.

“Yesterday it was intriguing just listening to that and being guided through it as it happened and we’re already wiring up players in Big Bash cricket and hearing their insights as the bowler is running in as though the viewer is out in middle.

“And the statistics paint a whole new picture to what you previously thought, what your perception was.”

“I don’t want to insinuate that it’s there now. I’m sure there is a happy medium… and [so far] there have been times when the use of technology has created more of a suspenseful atmosphere and a better experience for a viewer.”

SAPs global technology lead told Business Insider it’s unlikely that technology will dominate sport in the future because everything that SAP has built for the ICC has been requested for by the fans and the organisation.

“We’re working very closely with athletes and working really closely with the governing bodies… we take the time to sit down and ask: “what do you want from us?,” she said.

“We didn’t build anything that the fans didn’t ask for, as we do in business,” she said adding that the installation process is a well thought out, measured task to ensure all bases are covered.

“We work with them slowly to make sure the technology is being delivered when they want it and not being rammed down their throat. We wait until they are ready.”

At the end of the day she said “We all still want it to be about the athlete otherwise it’s just robots”.

“The technology should be used so that it’s not getting in the way, or affecting the flow of the game. It’s about choosing when to insert technology to make sure that it’s beneficial for everybody.”

The writer was a guest of SAP.

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