By watching a video, AI can now help distinguish between straight and lateral backlift.

Researchers at the University of Johannesburg used artificial intelligence to construct a deep learning computer vision model for detecting backlifts.

AI can assist coaches in providing precise feedback to batsmen
AI can assist coaches in providing precise feedback to batsmen.

Science is an essential but underappreciated aspect of sports. In our zeal to appreciate the spirit of the game, we, as viewers, sometimes ignore the strategies used by players. The support staff of a team, on the other hand, is always on the lookout for the smaller details. Take, for example, cricket. While most spectators are focused on how many runs a batter made, the support staff would analyze the batting and bowling tactics, as well as other minute aspects, with the assistance of technology. Even the most exact calculations include the potential for error. To avoid these tiny flaws, researchers are increasingly enlisting the assistance of artificial intelligence (AI).

During a cricket match, a batter facing a quick bowler must decide whether to go straight or lateral on the backlift in a fraction of a second. Imagine if technology has been enhanced to the point where it can aid support workers, or even in spotting problems. Researchers from the University of Johannesburg have built a deep learning computer vision model utilizing artificial intelligence that can distinguish straight backlift batters from lateral ones using just video in their recent work published in Nature Scientific Reports.

“This study gives a path ahead in the automated detection of player patterns and motion capture, making it less difficult for sports scientists, biomechanists, and video analysts operating in the field,” according to the paper.

Coaches may be able to provide more specific feedback to athletes using this technology. It can also assist identify athletes with lateral backlift components, such as great cricketer Sir Donald Bradman, a lateral backlift pioneer. “The beauty of deep learning in AI is that you don’t have to tell the AI what to look for,” said study co-author and PhD student Tevin Moodley.

The researchers discovered that inexperienced hitters frequently adopt a lateral backlift intuitively. “We’ve discovered that if young players aren’t trained using traditional ways, they don’t take up the bat straight.” They pick up the bat in a lateral motion. This implies that a straight backlift is not a natural action,” said Prof Habib Noorbhai, another author of the paper.

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