Selection in Digital Age, Some Suggestions

By Kamran Muzaffar - June 20, 2020

Consistent Success requires consistent supply of cut for role professionals. To establish such sustainable supply line, profiling of resources serves as fundamental building block. Effective profiling of resources, itself, requires effective systems, procedures and compliance to be in place.

For a successful international team, nothing is required more than professionals capable of producing quality, regardless of quantities they produce at domestic level. Such team also reflects a collection of diverse individuals specialized for specific roles, situations, tactics and strategies.

System and process of selection plays pivotal role in both output of the team and credibility of the administrators. Players may fail as their outcome also depends on output and quality of opponents. Whereas, selectors/administrators do not face any opponent except for their own shortcomings. They are supposed to deliver the best available squads without fail.

Modern Day Challenges

  •  International Cricket has transformed into role based occupation.
  • Scorecards paint quantitative pictures; do not provide qualitative indexes.
  • Modern Cricket has gone beyond the conventional role-classification of players (such as opener, middle order, opening bowler etc.) that conventional scorecards can capture.
  • Modern Cricket has identified more PROFILEs (specialized roles) – such as death over specialist, middle overs striker, dasher at the top, enforcer at the bottom etc. – that no scorecard captures.
  • Scorecard (linear data) summarization provide top accumulators – of runs, wickets, averages, 100s, 50s, 5-ers, Strike Rates etc. – but seldom points at specialization of individuals.

Road to Success

  • Look beyond linear (scorecard) data.
  • Profile each player. Capture each and every delivery – indexed by detailed parameters – and make it available to evaluators (selectors).
  •  Shift to KPI based evaluation of all domestic performances. [a match saving 70 odd on the final day, on a crumbling pitch, accumulated while shepherding the tail should always trump a double ton completed on the 2nd day of a tame draw on a placid strip]
  • Transform selection activity into a well-defined process spanning across multiple phases, such as:
    • Initial Screening – unopposed exclusions and inclusions
    • Shortlisting – identification of pool of players competing  for particular role
    • Evaluation – Focused Review of competing players based on required profile and performance criteria such as:
      • during first 10 balls of a batsman or 2 overs of a bowler
      • after bowling 8 overs or facing 15 deliveries
      • batting with the tail
      • batting to save the game
      • bowling after a batting partnership of 100+ or even watching every ball bowled or played by a player
    • Draft Selection – by the selectors based on above
    • Validation – independent review and/or random verification (by the CEO or someone on his behalf) of players identified in ‘Phase iv: Draft Selection’ and the players identified in ‘Phase ii: Shortlisting’ but excluded in final phase.The ball by ball archives, KPI reports and custom analytics to provide alternate source of truth for reconciliation with input of selection committee.
    • Approval – Final approval of the names by the chairperson with or without going through the same validation process as detailed in ‘Phase v: Validation

This all may look a very lengthy and complex process but that is where the Technology and Digital Age can simplify the process a great deal. Capturing ball-by-ball details of every domestic game is neither that costly nor resource hungry any more – already in place for the live streamed matches. On the other hand, each delivery is already being recorded by team analysts of the participating teams. All it needs is centralization and curation of those clips with ball-by-ball timeline of the match.

In this Digital Age, it may be harder to justify the non-existence of such mechanism as compared to having one.

Benefits

  • End to end transparency of selection process (the popular talking point) with documentary evidences.
  • Enhanced credibility through perception management – published adoption of a structured, phase wise, professional approach to a critical process shall help PCB strengthening its claim about better corporate governance.
  • Constitution of the team more based on roles and profiles to comply with certain strategy rather than formulating strategies, roles and profiles based on certain players.
  • Effective and efficient contingency planning;
    in situations of urgent replacements – instead of re-initiating the whole selection process and re-engaging the whole management (from captain to CEO and chairman of the board) – the management may very well know up to 3 levels of backup choices for the particular profile and player selected as first choice.
  • Clearer pathways – easier to explain each and every player where they stand in the queue of selection and the logical (KPI based) reasons behind it.
  • Further harmony and unity within the team representing Pakistan – knowing the criterion (KPI) and reasons for someone to be in or out of the team shall translate into lesser insecurities and unhealthy rivalries between the players.
  • Last but not the least …… more success at International Level – the ultimate goal !
By Kamran Muzaffar

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