WPL 2023: Royal Challengers Bangalore reveal they’re relying on AI to scout players for women’s setup

In the inaugural edition of the Women’s Premier League, the Royal Challengers Bangalore side is, at least on paper, one of the most stacked teams, pairing homegrown talent like Smriti Mandhana, Renuka Singh, Richa Ghosh with international stars like Sophie Devine, Ellyse Perry, Heather Knight, Dane van Niekerk and Megan Schutt.

But in a bid to uncover the next big star from the hinterland, the RCB management has turned to a unique ally: artificial intelligence.

How the AI scouting system works is that players will be asked to send in clips of themselves in action. The system will be used to run the rule over them and identify potential.

“We think our scouting needs to go a little bit deeper than sending regular scouts to tournaments. There’s a lot of untapped talent and potential throughout the whole country. So, we have an artificial intelligence system, where we look at at some key metrics. From a bowling perspective, it will be around pace. From a batting perspective, it will be around different positions that they get into. Once we identify talent there, we can bring them into camps or we can go and watch them at specific tournaments,” RCB Director Mike Hesson said at a pre-tournament press conference on Thursday.

He added that the AI was an additional resource put into use by the franchise besides the traditional scouts being sent around the country to watch tournaments to discover the next diamond from the rough.

RCB has been using the AI scouting system particularly to find female pacers who can bowl 130kmph or above.

“We’re certainly trying to unearth that talent, not just for this year, but for beyond as well. We’re trying to look far beyond just the mainstream tournaments or first class cricket or state cricket. We’re trying to look at underage talent, talent from the extremities of the country, people that potentially aren’t in teams already. The players we’re looking at might be a year away from actually being part of the RCB. But we can identify them, we can watch them over a period of time and just see how they, how they develop. That’s certainly how we also operate and both the men’s and women’s program,” he added.

WPL will take Indian cricket to an extremely high level: Sawyer

Meanwhile, Ben Sawyer, the coach of the women’s team of Royal Challengers Bangalore, said he believes that WPL has the potential to “take Indian cricket to an extremely high level”.

“In terms of the attention and the publicity around it, it’s a lot bigger than I’ve experienced. RCB themselves and the setup and everything that they’ve given the players is absolutely next level. Like they’ve left no stone unturned. And I know that as a coach, and as players, they’re extremely appreciative of that. It (WPL) will take Indian cricket to an extremely high level,” said Sawyer, an Australian currently in charge of the New Zealand women’s cricket team as well.

The inaugural edition of the WPL, featuring five franchises, gets underway from Saturday. RCB will play their first match on March 5 against Delhi Capitals at the Brabourne Stadium in Mumbai.

Speaking about getting tennis player Sania Mirza as a mentor, Hesson said, “We know it’s about the real challenges that women face in sport in India and throughout the world. So, a really exciting addition to the support staff and I’m sure all the girls are delighted to work with her. I think it’s exciting. In women’s sport, she has been a huge icon and it’s actually very good to be from outside of the game, because you’re talking more about the emotions and the pressures and moving towards challenges, rather than talking technique or about cricket… we’ve got experts for that. We’ve got plenty of experts for that.”

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