There is a quiet trend happening around the world: one that is about to become a revolution. This trend will be instrumental in creating the next generation of cricketers. Right now exactly the time to get ahead if you have ambitions to become a cricketer.
I'm talking about the "quantified self": the use of technology to measure performance. It's not a new idea, but it is one that is has never been more available, and so is growing at every level from youngsters through to elite Internationals.
Devices like the Apple watch, fitbit and our very own PV/ONE already prove the concept. Every day more "smart" devices and apps come out to help people track things effortlessly. The PitchVision app gives you one place to do everything cricket-based. Technology companies are moving towards quantification.
The inner circle: Review, learn, train, improve
Imagine a world where you know exactly how your life influences your cricket. You know what works, and you are motivated to maintain that approach. Meanwhile, you also know what fails, and can avoid those things. That's the measured life.
Of course, training is the obvious area. Does a certain drill improve your bowling accuracy, for example? PitchVision integrate video alongside tracking your pace, line and length to show you these results. To put things simply, you review your performance, you learn something about yourself, you adjust your training to match and you improve. You repeat the process to create a virtuous circle:
There's also a range of other aspects of your life that will give you a performance edge: sleep length and quality, fitness, nutrition, hydration, and plenty more.
It's all tracked by the measured cricketer because we know the proven links between these things and improved performances. We know our memories are deceptive so we take a more analytical approach.
The problem: It's hard work
All this is great in theory, but who has the time or motivation to track everything every day?
Digging through spreadsheets to log and analyse data might be fun for someone like Mark Garaway, but for normal humans it's bound to go wrong. The moment you slip up, all your data is corrupted. You might even feel like you are losing your sense of natural free play, fun and freedom.
Of course you want to know what is going on. You are keen to find out if strength training is helping you to bowl faster or just making you bulky. But to do that you need to carefully log workouts, test your strength levels, track your bowling pace and spend time comparing these data points. It can be done, but it's a hassle.
The cost has outweighed the benefit for most. It's even a problem at the elite level where people make a living from cricket!
The solution: Technology does the work, you reap the benefits
The approach taken at the highest level is to take the hard work out of capturing the data. Cricket South Africa have recently rebuilt their Centre of Excellence integrating PitchVision to track every ball bowled from every player. Other big cricket organisations have begun to follow suit. The coaches and players don't have to change their habits, the system logs things. All they have to do is look back over the information to spot what is working and what is failing.
Yet, this way of quietly gathering data is not restricted to the top guns.
PV/ONE and the PV app can do exactly the same thing for cricket practice at lower levels: Just bowl on it in nets. Apple Watch can track movement and sleep. There are even tools for tracking how much you drink via your iPhone!
Sensors are about to become the norm, and when they do, you will wonder how you managed without them. In fact, they are going to become essential for anyone serious about becoming a cricketer. The advantage is that great over those without access to data.
In short, if you want to be a cricketer, you better start tracking before someone else does it and takes your place at the top.