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Women's Cricket

UP Warriorz coach Jon Lewis uses AI to select England women's team

Lewis, who coached UP Warriorz in the first two seasons of WPL, is currently the coach of the England national women's team.

UP Warriorz coach Jon Lewis uses AI to select England womens team

Jon Lewis was the head coach of WPL side UP Warriorz. (Photo Credit: Cricbuzz)


The Bridge Desk

Updated: 4 May 2024 7:10 AM GMT

Jon Lewis, the head coach of the England national women's cricket team, introduced an innovative way of selecting his team, as he resorted to artificial intelligence.

The coach, on Friday, revealed how the AI proved to be a successful aid for the team selection. He also mentioned the fact that the technology helped his side square last season’s Ashes.

The 48-year-old is taking the help of a London-based company, PSi, to select an accurate squad composition and to ensure team balance and in-game matchups based on the key skills of each player. This system also plots projected outcomes depending on the composition of each side.

When he spoke to England’s rugby union coach Steve Borthwick about his use of the PSi model, he said the system had proved its worth as his side drew last season’s multi-format Women’s Ashes series against archrivals Australia.

“There was one selection particularly last year, one period of the Ashes that we targeted as a team,” said Lewis, speaking at the announcement of England’s squad for the T20 and ODI series at home against Pakistan later this month.

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

“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," he added.

The stint with UP Warriorz

Lewis also coached the WPL side, the UP Warriorz in the first two seasons of India's premier women's T20 franchise league - the Indian Women's League. He first became familiar with the work of the PSi during his leadership stint with the UP Warriorz.

“I came across it during my time at UP Warriorz and it’s something I looked at and thought it could add some value to the England Women’s cricket team.” Lewis told that how he clubbed with this company.

Up Warriorz could not grab any title under his coaching but showed some excellent skills during the tournament. Lewis also tried to rotate his players based on situations in different matches; he asked the Indian explosive finisher, Kiran Navgire, to open the innings after the first few matches of WPL season 2.

He made this decision after a poor start to the campaign for the team and this decision helped them. Kiran scored a half-century in her first match as an opener and led her team to victory.

“Now,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,” 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." He talked about how this system worked for him.

Though, he is still in favour of using a “people-first approach”, but he 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.”

The use of AI is becoming important at the top-level sport, with International Olympic Committee president Thomas Bach saying last month it could help identify talented athletes “in every corner of the world”. It could also provide more athletes with access to personalised training methods.

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