This is part 2 of an interview with Joe Maiden, Hampshire CC Performance Analyst. You can see part 1 here.
Rob: Can you give me an idea of what your typical game day set-up is like? The type of tasks you do during the game etc…
Pre-Game: We will have a 30 minute meeting on the day before a 4 day or 1 day game to analyse opposition, the ground we play at, and the individual strengths and weaknesses of the players we expect to play against the next day. We cover a variety of statistical data and video footage in order to back up points I make and to ensure that players learning styles are covered by both data and visual representation. There is also normally a motivational video at the end to hopefully inspire players to go out and play to their potential. I will then take the opportunity to ensure that both of our cameras are in the correct position for the game the next day.
During Game: The main role last season was to code every ball that is bowled on the software which is provided by the ECB. The software is called ‘Feedback Cricket’ and allows you to monitor a variety of areas that happen in each delivery. Where the ball landed, what shot was played, how many runs were scored to name a few. At the end of each day we are then required to upload the footage to the ECB server which then enables other analysts to access the footage and data.
Post-Game: After the game we can assess how we compared to the areas we wanted to achieve and do any further analysis based on any points that the coaches may bring up to look at ahead of the next game. Then the attention turns towards the next game and collecting the data and video footage of the following opposition.
This layout will change this season as our intern will be coding, whilst I can monitor other areas we identify for feedback during games. Having 2 people to do analysis is going to save us a lot of time and will enable us to track a lot more throughout the game and add more effectiveness to our data collection.
Rob: I would imagine each game produces a huge quantity of data? Is it a big job to manage all that and can you describe to people what’s involved in that side of your job?
Joe: Each game does produce a lot of data, and I think the size of the job and managing it is dependent on how early you identify the areas you want to manage and look at throughout the season. Our analysis team has sat down with the coaches and come up with the key areas that we will be looking to record and analyse, so in terms of that side of the role its fairly straight forward albeit time consuming. We have a variety of databases that we have created which we look to keep up to date on a game-by-game basis in order to ensure that our pre-game analysis is as relevant as it possibly can be. ‘Feedback Cricket’ is a very good product as it manages all of the video footage and makes it easily accessible from the ECB Server.
When a coach asks me for any specific analysis which he has identified, I find Cricinfo very useful as it keeps records of the all matches in an archive so the stats are easy to find.
I think by identifying what you are trying to achieve at the start of the season it makes this side of the role a lot simpler and frees you up to look at other areas should they arise.
Rob: Do you find players are happy to just look at data or do most of them like the combination of video and data?
Joe: As mentioned before I try to make sure that all my analysis and the way I put it across to the players will allow every individual to take from it what they need to. I think this is one of the main challenges of the role as you may find some ground breaking stats which will really benefit the team, however if you cant get them to buy into it or understand it then the data becomes useless.
I try to keep the slides as brief and as to the point as possible. In some circumstances and if used in-correctly analysis can become a boring part of the match preparation, so I’m always keen to be concise and relevant.
Some players wont respond as well to some of the statistical data, but will learn a lot from the video parts of the presentation so its about finding the balance. Even with individual analysis where players have come to me and asked for something, it’s still important to make sure it is portrayed correctly.
I’m lucky enough to have come into a club where I am a similar age to the core of the team, which has enable me to build strong relationships and allowed the analysis to work really well.
Rob: You are nearly a year into the job – are there any big lessons you have learnt that you would like to share? And maybe what’s been your favourite moment.
Joe: I think the main lesson I learned is that sometimes the stats will lie. Which interestingly came at the same point as my favourite moment of the season. We played Nottinghamshire in the Quarter Final of the T20 Tournament and the winner would book a place at Finals Day. We were the last of the Quarter Finals and got there the day before the game and went about the analysis meeting prior to training. In the meeting I had come up with the stats we had used throughout the season, I said about how strong Nottinghamshire were and how they won 100% of games at home that season when they batted first. I said that should they bat 1st we need to restrict them to below 165 as that was the average winning score.
They won the toss and batted as we had expected, however they went on to amass a big score of 190, well above what I had predicted. The players came in and were aware that they had gone well above the average winning score.
We went back out and chased 190 with an over to spare in an incredible run chase. The stats had lied, nothing like that had happened at Trent Bridge for the previous 3 seasons, as im sure you can imagine the elation was incredible (see picture of us celebrating on the balcony).
That trip home resonated with me as a moment where I learned a lot. As an analyst we always want to be as accurate as humanly possible, its great when you analyse the stats and they come to fruition. However in arguably the biggest game of our season, they lied, luckily for us we had the ability to make the stats for that game irrelevant.
Away from analysis my favourite moment occurred in a very different capacity to what most analysts would experience. Due to my previous playing years at Gloucestershire I was utilised at a 12th man (substitute fielder) for the majority of our away games in 4-day cricket. During an away game at Worcestershire I was fielding at mid on when a catch came my way! Luckily I managed to hold on to it, and it’s a moment I will never forget!
Rob: Any advice for aspiring analysts?
Joe: My advice would be to make the most of any experience you can get. I’ve found that having a strong knowledge of the sport you plan to work in is great as well. With regards to my own experience, I feel that without taking an opportunity to do some work at elite level off my own back, I wouldn’t have been in a position to get the role I have today. The onus is on you as an analyst to put yourself out there and find a way of getting in and making strong contacts along the way.