Cricket turns to technology to inspire the next generation


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The England and Wales Cricket Board (ECB) and Microsoft have announced a partnership to drive transformational change across the cricketing community, powered by technology.

The ECB oversees the entire game of cricket in England and Wales, spanning more than 2.5 million recreational players and 50,000 volunteers, as well as connecting with over a billion cricket fans across the world. The partnership will build on the ECB’s five-year strategy to grow the game – entitled Inspiring Generations – which aims to connect communities and improve lives through the sport.

The partnership with Microsoft will initially focus on three key areas: High Performance, Cricket Communities and Cultural Transformation.

The purpose-led nature of the partnership sets it apart from traditional sports and technology relationships. The ECB’s progressive approach to being a digital-first organisation will help to drive the growth of the game and ensure that cricket is a positive force in every community.

At the elite end of the sport, the partnership will explore how innovative use of technology (AI, real-time data and analytics) can improve the performance of England teams, where the men and women are currently reigning 50-over world champions. Beyond this, the ECB will also work with Microsoft to explore how ball-tracking technology can help to unearth the next generation of elite cricketers, and provide more opportunities for diverse talent across the whole game.

At cricket’s grassroots, digital skills training will be delivered to people across local cricketing communities as part of Microsoft’s “Get On 2021” campaign. The campaign – designed to help 1.5 million people build careers in technology by 2024 – will engage young people and volunteers across England and Wales to support education and improve employability prospects in an increasingly digital economy.

Tom Harrison, ECB CEO, said: “This partnership has the potential to transform every level of our game. The ability to drive innovation across high performance cricket will support the continued excellence of our elite teams, and the opportunities we will provide together across the whole recreational cricketing community will improve the life chances of many young people and adults.

“We could not have a better partner than Microsoft as we look to put technology at the heart of our business, develop the culture of the game and bring our purpose to life.”

Clare Barclay, CEO, Microsoft UK, said: “Microsoft is proud to support the England and Wales Cricket Board in its quest to become a digital-first organisation that can meet the needs and expectations of fans and players now and in the future. A key aspect of our work together is to create long-lasting economic change in local communities by helping people acquire digital skills so vital to their futures. This partnership is a great example of how we at Microsoft can fulfil our mission of empowering people and organisations around the world to achieve more.”