Former Warwickshire batsman James Ord now has a job which he reckons is the next best thing to playing cricket for a living.
Ord is now the Cricket Creative Manager for Hawkeye Innovations whose technology has been used by host broadcasters around the world since 2001 and by the International Cricket Council as part of its Decision Review System since 2008.
Ord, 28, began as systems operator with Hawkeye just over three years ago and, after a spell ensuring that the system worked correctly at international matches around the world, he is now UK-based.
“I am in charge of pretty much everything that gets broadcast on TV. I now manage a team of six operators, which is the job that I used to do,” Ord said.
“I divide my time between the office and grounds but I don’t do as much travelling as I used to. When I was working as an operator I could be overseas for 200 days a year.
“I’m a bit older now and I wanted to settle down so they gave me this job which is more UK-based.
“For UK international matches I will be at the grounds and supply all the data that you see when you are watching Sky – the graphics for the pitch map and the information that they use on their Third Man analysis slots – I provide all that.”
Although Ord does not have a technical background – he studied economics at Loughborough University – his cricket career proved significant in helping to land the job with Hawkeye.
“I was quite fortunate really. When I was at Loughborough Hawkeye ran a lot of placement schemes for third year students and I knew quite a few people who had been on those placements,” Ord said.
“Then my girlfriend went to a wedding where the best man mentioned that there were some jobs coming up in cricket and he got me an interview.
“Although my technical background wouldn’t have been as good as some of the other candidates I had a cricket background. I had always studied the game and taken a keen interest in stats. I think they looked at that and took a punt on me.
“I was taken on full-time straight away as a systems operator which basically involves being on-site at the games to make sure the system is fully in order and integrated with the broadcast so you can offer statistics, video replays and other interesting data.
“It’s quite technical in terms of the software side of things but I was more involved in cricket-specific things to begin with – understanding what commentators were more likely to talk about and building a good story for TV.”
The opportunity with Hawkeye came at a good time for Ord. He was released by Warwickshire at the end of 2010 after playing one County Championship and two one day matches for them.
For the next two seasons he played one day cricket for the Unicorns, trialled with Leicestershire and spent two winters playing club cricket in Australia in the hope that he might be given a second chance in county cricket.
“I looked to stay in the game after I left Warwickshire. I played for the Unicorns and went backwards and forwards to Australia in the winters to keep trying to improve but it got to a point where I needed to look for something else,” he said.
“This job is probably the next best thing for me to playing. Cricket didn’t quite work out but just being involved in this way means that I still enjoy it.”