England women head coach Jon Lewis has revealed how AI was used as a selection tool during last summer’s Ashes, helping his side to historic wins in both white ball series’.

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Speaking after announcing England’s squads for their series’ against Pakistan later this month, Lewis said that London-based AI company PSi ran hundreds of thousands of match simulations to help inform decisions about which players would fare best against the Australians. The simulations primarily provided information about in-game match-ups, and data sets on players based on different scenarios. Lewis first came across the technology when it was used by UP Warriorz, the WPL side that he coaches.

“We are able to run simulated teams versus the simulated opposition to give us an idea about how those teams may match up against each other,” said Lewis. “I can send multiple different lineups to PSi in London, and they run I think about 250,000 simulations per team that I send, with all different permutations that could happen through the game.

“I think it’s something that is quite commonly used across the world in franchise cricket, I first came across it during my time with the UP Warriorz in India. It’s something that I looked at and thought, this could add some value to the England women’s cricket team.”

England men’s rugby union coach Steve Borthwick has also used the technology in his own selections and has spoken to Lewis about its use. It’s also used by Wigan Warriors rugby league team and Wigan Athletic Football Club.

While Lewis credited the use of the technology for England’s series draw against Australia last summer, where England came back from a 4-0 points deficit to win both white ball series against the World No.1 side, he stressed it was not the only selection factor.

“What I would say is, it’s not how we select the side, but it’s one part of selection that we use to help understand what could possibly happen in the future,” said Lewis. “It’s really interesting, and we used it very successfully in the Ashes last summer with match ups against the Australia side. There was one selection particularly last year, one period of the Ashes that we targeted as a team. There were a couple of selections where AI really helped because both players I was thinking about picking were both in really good form and were both really selectable and it did help with those selections.

“The one thing that I suppose is missing at the moment from that is the quality of historical data in the women’s game. I think as we move forward with more and more competitions being played, especially at franchise and international level, we’ll be able to get much more accurate data. So it’s one part of what we do. Obviously, we’re on the ground with the people and that’s probably the first thing that we look to in terms of selection, who’s playing well and using our cricketing eye. It’s one small part of what we do and it’s really interesting and it played out really well last summer against Australia.”