Weston keen to get going as Kent’s new Senior Data Analyst

Thursday 24th November 2022

Men’s First Team

Weston keen to get going as Kent’s new Senior Data Analyst

Dan Weston, a familiar name to those on social media with an interest in the statistical side of cricket, has joined the Club to provide recruitment support and player analysis to the Club’s senior leadership team in its professional cricket department.

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Weston says himself that he’s looking forward to the challenge of working for the county of his birth; “The success of the management group here is obvious with white ball trophies in successive seasons” he outlines, “plus sustained status in Division One of the County Championship.

“The challenge for me is to help the Club with some further ideas to help create a few additional competitive advantages, which is something I’m immensely looking forward to.

“I’ve known some of the management group at Kent for a while and the opportunity to work with them more intensively was a very attractive proposition.  The current squad excites me and I’m extremely positive about our chances of future success.

“I grew up as a Kent supporter in Langton Green, near Tunbridge Wells. I can remember going to The Nevill Ground to watch Kent play when I was young.

“I also went to University in Canterbury, so I know the city well and it’s clearly a great fit for me to come to Kent Cricket.”

Weston explains how he found this career path: “From an early age, I’ve always been fascinated by numbers and sport, and I can remember even simulating cricket matches at home when I was a child!

“From there I did a degree in Accounting & Finance but took a more unconventional journey from there, spending a number of years playing online poker and working with tennis data.

“I spend a lot of time trying to understand best practice in other sports, football and baseball particularly are of interest, and how I can extract value from the data that’s available in cricket’’.

“Most American-based sports are far further along the road in terms of understanding the value which data can provide sporting organisations.

“When I started in cricket, I managed to pick up some freelance work with a few counties, including Kent. However, I stopped that when I was offered a more formal role with one county as their Recruitment & Strategy Analyst. I worked with that county for several years, up until the end of the 2022 season.

“I also work for Birmingham Phoenix in The Hundred, and have worked in various franchise leagues, including at the recent 2022 IPL mega auction as a recruitment consultant.

“The opportunity for me to work more in red ball cricket was a strong factor in me joining Kent Cricket.  I suppose to some extent I’ve been pigeon-holed as a white-ball analyst but I’m determined to showcase my abilities in the longer format as well.”

So, what will he bring to player recruitment at Kent Cricket as its new Senior Data Analyst?

“I can’t give any secrets away!” he jokes. “On a basic level my methodologies are pretty clear – one, a potential signing has to be able to already play at an expected level which the team considers a success, or two, they must have the potential to play at that level in the future.

“I do a lot of work with age curve analysis which has helped me find some of the highest potential young talent in the country before they have an elevated profile (for example, Will Smeed at Birmingham Phoenix). I was also delighted to see the recent signing of Joey Evison.

“Those in cricket who invest in data resources and in an analyst capable of providing useful insights to the management group, get an opportunity to gain a competitive advantage over opposition teams. The combination of statistical analysis and cricket knowledge is very powerful.”

When asked about who he’s most looking forward to working with, Weston gives a quick answer. “In my view, it has to be Sam Billings,” he says. “The recent news that Sam is prioritising Kent over the IPL in 2023 is fantastic for the Club.

“I’m really looking forward to seeing Sam lead the squad and get in the runs in red ball cricket early in the season, before hopefully leading us to further success in white ball tournaments as the year progresses.”

Talk soon moves on to the statistics that he feels are undervalued by teams and those which are perhaps overappreciated.

“Anyone who has read my work online regarding T20 will be very aware that I value winning the boundary percentage count in the shorter formats.

“Conversely, dot balls are slightly over-rated, particularly in English conditions which tend to be batting-friendly with shortish boundaries.

“If you offered me a choice in advance of a match that my team could score more boundaries than their opponent in 20 overs or face fewer dot balls, I’d take the boundaries.

Finally, we couldn’t speak to a Data Analyst without asking his views on how England won the T20 World Cup.

“England have embraced the boundary-hitting methodology I mentioned far more quickly and consistently than other countries, and they deserve huge credit for doing so,” he says.

“West Indies were probably the pioneers in the early 2010s, but for various reasons have struggled to consistently adopt it subsequently.

“Australia are becoming more aware, as are South Africa, but India are still reticent to commit to a more attacking style, as we saw in their Powerplays, in particular in the World Cup.

“However, all these teams on their day can beat each other.

“The key moments went England’s way (the tosses in the two knockout matches being a further example) and given my poker background, the best analogy I can find to describe why England won the T20 World Cup,is that they were dealt a good hand and played it well.”

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