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    England Women turn to AI to help pick a winning team
England Women turn to AI to help pick a winning team
Jon Lewis addresses his team. Source: ECB via Getty Images

England Women turn to AI to help pick a winning team

England Women are using artificial intelligence (AI) to inform selection, a system that head coach Jon Lewis says proved crucial in last year's drawn Ashes series.

Lewis was first introduced to the technology, provided by London-based PSi, while coaching UP Warriorz in last year's inaugural WPL. Since then, he has spoken to the likes of England rugby union coach Steve Borthwick about the system, which is also used by English rugby league side Wigan Warriors and English Football League One side Wigan Athletic, and allows the coaching staff to simulate different match-ups and scenarios.

Lewis said on Friday after the announcement of England's white-ball squads for next week's tour of Pakistan:

"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. I can send multiple different lineups to the company and they run, I think it's about 250,000 simulations per team that I send with all the different permutations that could happen through the game.”

Lewis said a gap somewhat hampered the research methods in the quality of historical data in the women's game, a situation he believes will improve with an increasingly busy international schedule and a growing franchise scene. And while he said the tool was particularly useful in making borderline selection decisions, he would always opt for a people-first approach.

AI was used throughout last summer's Ashes and Lewis pointed to the T20 leg, which England won 2-1 to bounce back into the series after losing the one-off Test, as a moment when it helped him weigh up the merits of two players who were "both in really good form and both really selectable".

From data to people, England has just completed a bonding trip to the Lake District, which included a series of team-building exercises, including cold-water swimming, designed to see how the players reacted in situations that, for many, were outside their comfort zones.


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