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Q&A with Head of Data Science: Surya Kocherlakota

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We caught up with Surya Kockerlakota, Head of Data Science, to discuss his career background and his motivations for joining CricViz.

Welcome to CricViz, Surya. Can you tell us about your career to date and your experience working in data science in sports?

Thank you, I’m very excited to be here! I’ve worked in data science for six years, three of those in sports data science for the Rajasthan Royals’ analytics partner. In that role, I worked on the Royals’ player recruitment strategy over the past three-year mega-auction cycle, during which they had the second-highest win rate in the IPL.

What excited you about the opportunity to join CricViz?

I’ve been in Cricket Data Science for a few years and wouldn’t trade it for the world. I’m excited to continue along that path and CricViz offers a unique set of challenges I’m keen to sink my teeth into. We have a diverse range of clients spanning broadcasters, media companies, and international and domestic cricket teams and boards – all of which require you to think about and model the game slightly differently. We also have an incredible Insights team with deep expertise from an editorial and coaching perspective, who I’m looking forward to collaborating with and learning from.

Given your career experience, where can CricViz make a difference in the game?

CricViz’s unique position in the industry, with its presence across broadcast and professional teams, allows for extensive cross-pollination of ideas to drive the game forward for the benefit of players and fans. Advanced metrics in other sports, such as WAR (Wins Above Replacement), xG (Expected Goals), etc., have made their way into everyday vocabulary. These metrics give fans and professionals a way to understand the game better and enhance performance beyond what the traditional stats allow. I’m excited to help drive similar trends in cricket through CricViz’s advanced metrics, such as xW and Impact (and perhaps a few new ones!)

Outside of your career, what is your connection to sport?

A week rarely goes by without me playing cricket in some capacity. In the winter, it’s usually more Virtual Reality cricket or Sixes Social Cricket with friends. I’m also a close follower of football (both the regular and American variants). Beyond playing and watching, I’ve always aimed to blend sports and tech. When I was studying, I built a sensor array for my cricket bat to analyse shot timing, and I’m thrilled to now work on similar projects professionally.

How do you see the role of data science in cricket evolving in the next 12-18 months?

The rise of analytics in other sports, such as baseball, is well-studied. We will likely see similar trends in Cricket as more teams invest in their analytics. As the competition gets stiffer, teams will continue to grow their capabilities to stay ahead of the curve, which translates to bigger analytics teams with more scope. Given advances in AI and Machine Learning over the past years, many of these new projects are likely to come in the form of predictive models that aid decision-making. While these trends will be most notable over a more extended period such as 5-10 years, we’re still likely to see the initial stages of that growth in the coming year or two.

For more information about our Data Science services, click here.

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