Performance Analyst James Tomson gears up for T20 start

Performance Analyst James Tomson gears up for T20 start

With the Vitality Blast now only two weeks away, the Club sat down with its Performance Analyst, James Tomson, who joined the Club at the start of the season to discuss how he’s settled in so far, & what people can expect from the Kent Spitfires this T20 season.

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Tomson joined Kent from Warwickshire on a short-term basis at the end of last season & now joins Kent alongside Senior Data Analyst, Dan Weston.

“I was born in Sutton Coldfield in Birmingham, & first played cricket in the back garden at my Nan & Grandad’s with my Dad & Uncle.

“I first joined a club to play in a more organised way aged 9, at Tamworth Cricket Club. I went straight into the Under-10’s & in hard ball cricket. I still play for Tamworth now occasionally, with finest moment in a Tamworth shirt 143 not out against rivals Lichfield when I was sixteen! It was my first hundred and still my highest score.”

His journey to Kent as a Data Analyst really starts when he attended the University of Gloucestershire.

“I started getting into the analysis side of things at Uni. I went to study Sport & Exercise Science, & in my second year I did some Performance Analysis modules & coaching modules. From there I wanted to start the Performance Analysis path.

“During my third year I did a couple of internships in analysis; I did my first at Birmingham City Football Club’s Academy, filming &coding anywhere from U9 to U23 matches. In the Summer I got an internship at Warwickshire CCC as well, learning from a man named Stuart Key, who was phenomenal at what he did. I then stayed with Warwickshire until the end of 2021, which also lead to me working with Birmingham Phoenix in The Hundred last time out.

“Through Dan Weston I’ve also spent time in the Bangladesh Premier League with the Chattogram Challengers, as well as providing Analysis for some of England’s Disability sides.

“I think my personality helped me decide what I would enjoy doing for work as I like helping and watching others succeed.

“Through analytics & being able to provide any insight I can, finding any little marginal gains we’re able to get or finding match-ups to see if there are trends of bowlers’ next delivery after being hit for a 4 or 6, for example, then we’re already on the front foot.

“Being able to provide those insights & gain that competitive advantage or competitive edge is the underlying reason I started my career in analysis suppose.

“You see analysis everywhere nowadays. You turn on Sky Sports and you see people like Gary Neville having a go on a touchscreen! But something I saw from football & really saw the value of was the use of heat maps. So I try to see how I can transfer that into a cricket environment. That particular one is in terms of batters, & I can’t really reveal too much else! But yeah, that’s something I have taken from the football environment into the cricket environment for sure.”

Ahead of his fourth home match with Kent, we then get onto how he has found working with the Spitfires so far.

“I would probably say the atmosphere and environment is the biggest difference between working here & at Warwickshire.

“Everyone is super relaxed & receptive here, & within the space of a month, month & a half, I’ve been made to feel very very welcome.

“I’ve had some really good chats with players about their data & about their numbers. Stuff like what they can do to improve their game & improve those numbers, & where their numbers sit in Vitality Blast cricket numbers.

“The players have been really enthusiastic to look at stats, as have the coaches, & we’ve had really good honest conversations with one-another. Players will then go & work with Walks [Matt Walker], Giddo [Alex Gidman] & Chef [Simon Cook] so they can give their technical cricket advice based on the stats.

“Going into this year’s Blast, Dan [Weston] & I provide a good level of knowledge for white-ball cricket. We’ve worked together previously in The Hundred with Birmingham Phoenix. They’ve had a very successful couple of years due to the recruitment strategies in place based on requirement from Dan & I, & I’d like to say the insights we have given; good information on opposition players, but most importantly we focus on our players, helping to maximise our arsenal to hopefully get the win before looking in depth at who we’re playing against.”

As talk turns to this year’s Blast, we test ‘JT’s knowledge of the Kent Spitfires, & in particular who he classes as our main rivals.

“I’ve been told about the Battle of the Bridge [with Essex] already! Rumour has it if we beat Essex I get to use the Dartford Crossing for free…”

So who does Tomson think we will see shine in a Kent shirt this T20 campaign?

“In terms of death bowling, you’ve got to look at Kane Richardson. He executes his yorker very very well, & his economy rate when he bowls his yorker are superb comparable with the top level in the game.

“He’s very skilful in how he sets his over up. For example he bowled the last over for Birmingham Phoenix against Welsh Fire last year in The Hundred – Fire needed nine to win off five & Kane defended that perfectly with his yorkers & slower balls.”

Who would he back to hit a six to win a game for Kent the most?

“I’m going to go Jack Leaning. It’s an outside shout & players like Grant [Stewart] & Blakey [Alex Blake] have made headlines doing it, but Jack’s death-hitting numbers are exceptional. If the bowler is bowling pace-on & you need a maximum from the last ball, for me Jack’s your man.”

Who’s his most underrated Kent player in T20s, then?

“I’m not sure about ‘underrated’, but I’m going to do with with Daniel Bell-Drummond. He’s possibly one of the finest white-ball, top-three batters in county cricket in the minute. He has good averages & scores them at a good strike-rate, at a good boundary rate & scores against both spin & seam.”

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