The role of a Performance Analyst in County Cricket
In conjunction with our partners Cooper Associates, we take a closer look at a man behind the numbers and data at Somerset County Cricket Club – First XI Analyst Scott Thomas.
The role of the analyst in County Cricket has grown enormously over the last decade, with the race firmly on to use data and insight to gain competitive advantages on the field. The advancement in technology has also played a huge role in helping coaches and players access and analyse key footage required to provide strategies across the game of cricket.
On completion of his master’s, Scott joined the Somerset coaching set up in February 2020, just a month before the coronavirus pandemic took a grip on the United Kingdom.
An academic, with huge love for the game of cricket, Scott works full time within the First XI coaching setup.
Scott’s usually found hard at work at his computer screens in the Andy Caddick pavilion. However, he is on occasions, seen giving throw downs in the nets.
Scott’s love affair with cricket started in his back garden in Swansea, with a plastic bat and ball. His journey continued by playing cricket at school and getting into playing age group cricket in Wales. After impressing at age group level, Scott’s talent gained him a place in the Glamorgan Academy. He went to appear for Glamorgan’s Second XI on occasions, as well as playing Minor Counties cricket for Wales. On this he said: “that doesn’t go down very well here…”
Impressively, Scott managed to play Super Four’s cricket (an ECB Pathway tournament at Loughborough, that stands between the David English Bunbury Festival and the England U19’s set up on the Performance Pathway). Regarding the Super Four’s, Scott said: “It was probably the highest standard I’ve played against some of the boys who have gone on to play for England at my age – which is pretty special to be able to compete at that level.”
University took him the short journey to Cardiff Metropolitan University, where he studied Performance Analysis as an undergraduate, achieving First Class Honours. After deciding to continue in education, Scott stayed at Cardiff Met to study an MSc in Performance Analysis. With cricket being Scott’s niche subject, he continued on playing cricket at university and further put his academic life into practise, as he worked for the Cardiff MCCU as their main analyst, as well as working at Glamorgan in their Analyst department.
At the culmination of his studies, Scott landed the role at Somerset. He said: “The university work and the cricket background has come together quite nicely to be involved in professional cricket”.
So, what does Scott do on non-matchdays?
“On non-matchdays, I work on preparation for the boys for their upcoming matches, whether that’s t20, four-day cricket or the 50 over tournament that is soon. The preparation changes depending on the format”.
For those that have seen our “Behind the Wyvern” series, you would have seen Scott talking to the players pre match on the opposition. Having good knowledge of a player’s strengths and weaknesses is so important in the modern game, as bowlers can make plans for batsman and the batsman can target certain parts of the oppositions bowling.
Scott additionally helps with training, whether that’s First XI, Second XI or the Academy stuff. In conversation, you can tell Scott enjoys this. “Slinging, mitting, all the general coaching stuff I do is enjoyable. It’s really fun being around the boys and enjoying the high standards in the work that they do”.
Scott works around Andy Payne, the Somerset Pathway and Western Storm Analyst. “He does a great job in getting footage of our age group cricket. We work together to build his skills, so that one day he can get into a full-time role”.
So what does a matchday look like for Scott?
Scott’s matchdays are a stressful affair. Scott said: “The day before a game, we set up a camera at both ends for the footage for the ECB.”
“The main matchday focus is the live ball coding, which is a lot of button clicking. The speed and stress of trying to get data in is huge, especially when (Max) Waller is running through the overs and making me stress even more!”
“T20’s are the busiest days. Andy Payne comes in and live codes the fielding, which is extremely important. We look at the field placings, which fielder picks up the ball, the type of movement used to pick up the ball, the speed of the ball, as well as trying to work out runs saved and runs lost. So, all the ball data and all the fielding data is pretty full on as the game is live. But it’s fun and pretty worthwhile, with the data we get that we can then give to the coaches.”
Scott’s fixed analyst cameras at both ends of the ground are also incorporated into the very successful Somerset live stream.
On this, he said: “I’ve got a very good relationship with Ben Warren, Dan Cooper and the guys at MyActionReplay, so that my cameras can be incorporated into the live stream.”
For those familiar with our live streaming operation, Scott’s cameras are the two fixed ones that are focused on the wicket from behind the bowler’s arm. Scott is regularly seen on the morning of a game, running between his base in the Andy Caddick Pavilion and the Lord Ian Botham Stand or Marcus Trescothick Pavilion making sure his cameras work and making little adjustments.
“Ben and I are in contact throughout the matchdays to check that everything’s working fine. I make sure the colour and picture from the cameras is good and looks professional, so that it’s better for the viewer at home.”
“Ben Warren does a great job on the Live Stream that goes down well with the supporters.”
The role of a Performance Analyst has really taken off in sport and in particular within cricket. On this, Scott said: “Obviously being young, I don’t have any experience of what analysis used to be like. But having new kit like a live speed gun has really pushed things on. Additionally, being able to code Second XI games and out-ground games has been a really good progression. I can send these clips to Ben Warren to post on SCCC’s digital platforms and we get a lot of views!
2ND XI: 4 wickets in 4 balls for Kasey Aldridge! 🤩
— Somerset Cricket 🏏 (@SomersetCCC) June 8, 2021
“The ECB are trying to push cricket analysis on and constantly improve it. Here at Somerset, we are trying to be national leaders in that, which is my big aim. We’re up there with getting the most coded games done as a County. Some days we’re coding First XI games, Second XI games, U-18s games and have gone as far down as including under 14 games which is exciting. With the youngsters being able to look back at their footage is good for them and their cricket.”
In the background, there is some big advances with technology, which Scott admitted, “they’re very geeky, but I won’t bore you or anyone with that…”
Scott will spend his winter trying to improve his skills and knowledge, as well as analysing the previous season and seeing where the club and players can improve on aspects of the game. Since moving to Taunton, he has joined local side Taunton Deane CC and plays on the odd occasion he has a spare Saturday.
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