Robin Singh: Video data is available, use it

Tue, Oct 16, '07


WICB Under Scrutiny

interview by LAWRENCE ROMEO

When the KFC trophy bowls off in Guyana this week, it would be one of the few opportunities that the WICB would have to have all of the premier one day players in the Caribbean together at one time, and an opportunity to assess the strengths and weaknesses of the players in the crucible of competition.

This would be the perfect opportunity for the organization to gather data on and video footage of the players so that the future coach, the selectors and other parties would be able to use such information to assist players to work on weaknesses in their game.

Through the wonder of Internet technology, I recently had a wide ranging conversation with Robin Singh who has single-handedly sought to make video and statistical analysis standard in regional First Class and List A cricket.

Through his untiring efforts, and largely at his own cost, Singh has gathered an impressive database of footage of our current players, strengths and weaknesses included. He has also taken the time to become a certified cricket coach and currently holds a level 1 Coaching certificate.

In fact, he supplied me with a link so that I would be able to view highlights of the players as they go through their paces during the KFC tournament.

Here is our conversation:

How did you first get involved in Video Technology and analysis?

In 2003 I decided to introduce the science of Video and statistical analysis to regional cricket, now we were at the time doing video analysis at the senior team level, however information about this was vague at best, no one seemed to know what software we were using and there were certainly no plans to introduce it at regional level, reason being we couldn’t afford to televise games etc.

I spent 3 months testing and researching software and settled for the Ecricket package from Feedbacksport, It was by far the superior product and rated highest for ease of use by players and coaches, the actual analyst inputs are just as difficult whatever the system.

Which was the first Caribbean team that you worked with?

The system was used by the Trinidadian team with success and the players and coach were enthusiastic, during that first season I saw the need for expansion, through the good offices of Dr. Michael Seepersaud, then the Cricket development officer of the WICB, I was invited to demonstrate the systems' capabilities in Jamaica 2004, the CEO Roger Brathwaite and Operations manager Zorol Barthley immediately saw the value of such a system and I started working for the board covering regional matches. We were making progress.

What happened after that?

Change was afoot in 2004, Roger Harper's tenure as coach came to an end and Gus Logie became temporary head coach, I never had a chance to demonstrate Ecricket for Roger during his tenure, Gus however had a look and was duly impressed.

However after our magnifcent champions trophy win, the coaching position was handed to Bennett King, who was named Cricket supremo.

Were you able to meet or work with Bennett King?

This was an unmitigated disaster, for myself and the video analysis program, after a ten minute meeting where I was taken aback by style and lack of class displayed by Bennett King, I knew we were in for a rough time in West Indies cricket.

To coach any sport one must gain the trust of your charges, this was never going to happen, call them what you will, but our players are all polite well mannered gentlemen, yes we have a few whose antics cause the public to get hot under the collar, but Bennett King was, in my opinion, extremely uncouth, sure enough he had good credentials and certificates, but all I can say is the culture of Australia must be far different than ours.

I think the results or lack of thereof speak for itself.

What happened to the video analysis program?

The video analysis program was shut down, ostensibly for lack of funds and we were back to square one. The world of video analysis continues to make strides and these continue to be ignored by the WICB, assistant coaches are asked to do analysis , this is all well and good but they need to be trained. Our team is asked to go into battles against well informed and prepared teams, whilst we appoint an analyst 3 days before a tour, It would take me a month despite my large library of games to prepare for a tour, asking someone to "do the computer" with little or no notice is unfair to them and the team.

Have you been able to have a direct impact on any player since you’ve been working with this program?

One of the most rewarding things about working in cricket is the friendships that develop, for instance in 2004 Trinidad were playing against Guyana at Albion. A sports writer for Stabroek news was Yelling "No ball" as Rayon Griffith was bowling. There was no doubt his action was flawed, the video evidence was there. I said nothing, but after the game I put all of his bowling on a CD and gave it to him along with my email and contact number in Trinidad, he contacted me 2 months later, we worked together for close to ten months to correct that action and in the process developed a strong friendship.

One sidebar to this is I have noted bowlers who get called for suspect actions come under much more intense scrutiny and the pressure must be enormous, what with ever Tom, Dick and Harriet declaring you are chucking! Players deserve better and many of those quick to criticize must realise, it is never intentional, and can be corrected, albeit with much effort.

Give me a brief synopsis of the Ecricket package?

Today Ecricket is the most advanced and useful program of its kind, it incorporates data from Hawkeye, it allows users to share video and data online, the online demonstration linked here is just for highlights, serious coaching applications include online access to every ball bowled. In our quest for development one of our major stumbling blocks has traditionally been our geography, this application bridges that gap perfectly, shots played in Anguilla can be reviewed in Grenada," No problem, Mon."