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Now, an App to Check How Fast You Bowl, and More - From Lockie Ferguson and His Brother

Lockie Ferguson and his brother Mitch Ferguson have jointly come up with an App - Machineroad - that provides bowling speed, pitch maps and other bowling analysis upon recording video in the nets.

Now, an App to Check How Fast You Bowl, and More - From Lockie Ferguson and His Brother

Ever wondered how fast you bowl, but you have no way to check it as you have no access to a speed gun? You can find that, and a lot more about your bowling, using just your mobile phone.

Technology in cricket training – even at amateur level – has been rapidly improving over the last few years. There are bat sensors to identify bat speeds and angles, there are apps that connect individuals to professional coaches. Now, there’s one for bowlers too; New Zealand’s pacer Lockie Ferguson and his brother Mitch Ferguson have jointly come up with an App – Machineroad – that provides bowling speed, pitch maps and other bowling analysis upon recording video in the nets.

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The Ferguson brothers grew up playing cricket together. Like Lockie, Mitch too was a ‘hugely passionate’ pacer until a back injury ended his hopes of a playing career. He switched to Information Technology and entrepreneurship while his brother worked his way into becoming one of the fastest bowlers in world cricket. The passion for fast bowling has driven them to work on a platform for grassroot cricketers to help with training, workload management and thus injury prevention.

“The concept came from some of the experiences that I’ve gone through and I know Lockie has gone through,” Mitch explains to Cricketnext. “We’ve kept it fairly simple. It has been a lot of work done with Lockie and other bowlers on what they’d like to see – a basic platform that will help them improve their skills.

“As well as prevention of injuries. So that the next generation of grassroot cricketers can do the right things and not push themselves too hard when they’re younger so they can have the longevity.”

According to Lockie, the platform is just the tip of the iceberg in its current version and built to give athletes a chance of controlling their own development.

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“A lot of the marketing has been around me and my pretty face of course, being a fast bowler that’s where we’ve started,” chips in Lockie. “It’s easier to create a hype around fast bowling with the speed gun. But our goal is to work on all kind of bowlers, even spinners, to work on bowling loads and reduce injuries.

“Everyone likes to know how quick you can bowl, and we’ve created an app where you can go down to the nets and see what it is. That’s just the tip of the iceberg.

“The app is essentially built around the athletes themselves having control over their own development. That’s been a big learning for me, what my strengths and weaknesses are,” he explains.

“…because in my experience, the kids tend to learn a lot quicker through their peers and looking at their own footage and get a chance to understand how they’re bowling. Not always do they take on board what their coaches say and I’m certainly guilty of that myself.

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“Not everyone has access to coaching. It can be a high costing entry, so athletes can go down and practice themselves.”

Photo: Lockie and Mitch Ferguson.

Giving interesting information on usage of technology in professional and international cricket, Lockie says there’s often too much information that’s not helpful.

“Honestly, if you come into the professional environment, the notes that we get, although very detailed, don’t always paint the right picture for you. You can imagine how many overs I’d have bowled in my career – if you were to give me an overview of that, that doesn’t give you a lot of information about how I bowl because every condition is different. Everything changes so much. You can be given as much information as you want but , I was talking to Shane Bond recently and said we’re often given too much information and that’s not helpful,” he says.

“So we need to work out what information works for me when I’m playing next game but also what works for me going forward as I try to develop my skill. There’s a huge gap where we scout the other teams – sometimes we look at our bowling and development but there’s still a huge gap. At training, the skills that we’re working on, none of that is ever documented, it’s not online, I can’t review that after.

“If it becomes the norm that Machineroad is set up at the nets, if it’s giving us realtime feedback, then after the training session I can get some review. It doesn’t need to be perfect, we’re sure to have bad days but we can sometimes lie to ourselves on how we went that day in training. But now with a tracker, I know I want to perform better because the camera is on me. As a professional, it’s helpful. We’re also giving it to amateurs.”

While the App is targeted at grassroot cricketers, Lockie himself, along with some KKR players, were using it in the nets during the IPL. Is he someone who analyses each game he plays?

“I started out watching every single game tape I could when I was new to international cricket,” he says. “I fell into the trap of over analysing batters. Of course if you analyse Virat Kohli or AB de Villiers or Kane Williamson or David Warner, you’re going to think jeez they’re good. And they are! But that doesn’t help me. So it took me a year to understand that it wasn’t positive for me to keep watching game tape of them doing well.

“Then I went away, got dropped, played domestic cricket and worked on my strengths. Then I had a plan going forward on what are the things I do well. And when I come up against a Kohli or AB, how can I adjust those so that it works for that batter. Every batter has strengths and weakness, some more than others, but I think that was a huge learning for me in terms of my own personal game plan. More information is not always a good thing, I talk to a lot of bowlers – Pat Cummins and the likes – keeping it simple and understanding your own game is key.”

While the current version is ‘basic’ and ‘simple’, the brothers promise plenty more for the future.

“With technology growing in the last five years, we probably couldn’t do what we’re doing now 2-3 years ago,” says Mitch.

“The free version provides you with speeds, lengths and a trajectory image that you can collate and share with your friends. When you go to the premium service, that’s where you get into training and specific skills. With that, you get a slow-motion video which is helpful to look at how they’re bowling or how they’re falling apart, their front-leg positions and so on.

“At the moment, the app and the pitch map helps you with the kind of lengths you’re bowling. You can track the number of overs you’ve bowled through the app, which can help with workloads. We understand that it’s not realistic to expect people to use the app every time they hit the nets, so we will look at ways to add overs manually.

“Moving forward there’s going to be more aspects, on what other data and analytics we can pick up. Potentially on the amount of spin, swing… there’s So many different directions we can take this, but it’s also important we keep it simple and don’t get sidetracked.”



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