A computer boffin from America has finally unpacked the mysteries of batting that have stayed a tantalising secret in cricket for over a century.
Speculation over bat speeds and shot power, as well as the eternal search for ‘the middle’, has long fascinated cricket’s army of obsessed followers, commentators, and players from the backyard to the MCG.
In a world first for cricket broadcasting, all will be revealed this summer as Fox Cricket launches its revolutionary ‘Smash Factor’ which will provide an unprecedented level of batting analysis for viewers in real time, all thanks to a tiny sensor hidden behind the sticker on the back of the players’ bat.
Smash Factor will measure data such as bat speed, launch angle, shot power and timing, while the sensor will pick up vibrations off the bat to determine an accurate reading out of 100 for whether the player has hit the ball out of the ‘sweet spot’.
Swing radars have been prominent in baseball and golf coverage for some time, but the 360-degree nature of cricket has made the technology impossible to replicate, until now.
BELOW: DETAILS OF FOX CRICKET’S SMASH FACTOR
Boston-based company Divino, in conjunction with Microsoft and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, has solved the issue by creating a sensor that weighs no more than a credit card that can break down and demonstrate every element of a batter’s technique, from a booming Glenn Maxwell six to a perfectly timed David Warner cover drive.
Fox Cricket is set to pioneer an innovation that will at last take the guess work out of determining how well a ball has been hit. Most Australian players this summer have already agreed to take part.
“Any time you go against traditional conventions in cricket, it’s always very, very difficult to change people’s way of looking at things. So putting anything on a bat was always going to be difficult,” said Fox Cricket executive producer Brad McNamara, who has made the hunt for this technology a personal project of passion for several years.
“Whatever we put on a players’ bat firstly has to not affect the integrity or the balance of the bat, which is not easily done.
“Initially there were things in handles they put in there which put the balance of the bat off and the handle was longer and players didn’t like that. So they had to come up with something the players essentially didn’t know was there. That’s what this has done.
“Smash Factor is not just all about big hits. We will also be able to get very technical with measurements of bat face angles and back lifts helping us dissect, demonstrate and tell the stories of individual batting techniques.”
Recent breakthrough innovations like ball tracker and ‘snicko’ have focused on what the bowler is trying to do to get players’ out, but Smash Factor is technology purely dedicated to the art of batting.
One of the key hopes for Smash Factor is that it won’t simply be a broadcasting hit, but also a retail sensation that will allow kids to measure their batting against the pros or other young players in any corner of the globe.
“Cricket mad kids don’t go to sleep with their ball, they go to sleep with their bat,” said McNamara.
“The whole idea is to balance up the technology side of things with having bat metrics.
“For eight or nine years I’ve looked at how we can do this and the technology was just a bit behind. But we’ve finally got something that solves all those problems.
“The other thing about this is it’s not just a game-changer for broadcast. The data can go into a cloud and a kid in the nets in Sydney can compare their data to a kid in the nets at the same time in Mumbai. Or to Chris Lynn.
“Smash Factor sends bat data … via Bluetooth to an app, or in the case of our broadcasts, a specialist box housed at the base of the stumps.”
FOX CRICKET’S SMASH FACTOR
– Sends data in real time from a sticker sensor placed on just below the bat handle.
– The sensor, created by US company Divinio, weighs no more than a credit card.
– Measures data such as bat speed, launch angle and power of shots.
– ‘Smash Factor’ is a measurement of how well a ball has been hit and timed.
– Plan develop sensors and an app available to cricketers at every level so they can compare their ‘Smash Factor’ with the pros and players around the world.