Cricket Australia’s replatforming of online services paid off during pandemic

by Jeremy

Cricket Australia’s decision to re-platform multiple consumer-facing digital services through an outsourcing deal with HCL in 2019 paid off when the pandemic struck.

With fans unable to attend matches, the sudden rise in demand for online services would have put too much load on the previous infrastructure, potentially causing services to fail.


The organization, which supports Australian cricket from the grassroots to the national team, had several successful digital properties, but they were standalone. These were brought onto a single modern platform through the work with HCL.

Before the pandemic, during the 2018/19 season, more than two million fans attended cricket matches in Australia, and Cricket Australia’s digital services had a global online audience exceeding 20 million a year.

The arrival of Covid-19 on Australian shores changed things overnight as fans turned to the Cricket Australia app to watch the sport, resulting in millions of extra hits.

Michael Osborne, general technology manager at Cricket Australia, said the traffic volume to the organization’s digital services was like nothing it had seen before.

“I am pretty convinced the previous infrastructure would have crumbled under the load, but [the new one] held up fantastically,” he said.

The impact of the pandemic also reaffirmed the importance of digital services to Cricket Australia. Osborne added that it wants to move to the next stage, using more data to offer users what they want.

To this end, Australian cricket’s governing body has challenged the wider community to develop technologies that could benefit cricket fans and players in Australia and beyond.

It launched TechJam 2021, a long-term hackathon that brings developers, data scientists, analysts, and sports enthusiasts together.

Through TechJam, it is offering access to its data to kick-start the development of software that could improve services to spectators and player performances. As part of this, with HCL’s support, Cricket Australia has created a sandbox on Microsoft Azure.

TechJam opened to participants on 14 June, and teams can sign up until 22 July. So far, 150 units have signed up. Entries will be judged in September.

The plan to launch TechJam followed the success of a similar but much smaller project. “TechJam grew out of an idea from HCL focused on data in the high-performance space. We ran a small challenge and made available a dataset of past performances of national teams and players. We asked people to find interesting nuggets that high-performance staff could use to improve the teams,” said Osborne. “That worked well, so we have extended it beyond data to wider technology.”

The organization is looking for innovation in three main areas: technology that can help Australia’s cricket team improve, functionality that can improve fan engagement, and technology to improve services for its community of 700,000 registered people. It also has a “wildcard category” for anything that doesn’t fit into these.

Developments from outside are being encouraged by an organization that does not have large enterprises’ internal software development capacity. Not-for-profit Cricket Australia has a core in-house IT team of about 30 people, most of whom work in user support and infrastructure roles, with only seven software developers.

TechJam is open to sports enthusiasts, data scientists, analysts, developers, statisticians, tech enthusiasts, tech freelancers, university students, coders, and technology innovators from the global developer community.

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