It’s been nearly 15 years since an under pressure and out of form Steve Waugh walked out onto the crease at Sydney Cricket Ground for the last ball of the second day of the Ashes.
His future career prospects had been called into question. Rumours of his impending retirement were swirling round the sports pages. The ground’s second biggest ever crowd (plus the one in nine Australians watching on television) waited with baited breath.
He smashed it: hitting a ton that would go down in Ashes folklore and in the process surpassing 10,000 Test runs and equalling Sir Don Bradman’s record 29 centuries. Waugh called it his ‘perfect day’.
“I feel as if it was my destiny to get a hundred on that day. So I just said let it happen, let it unfold, don't force the issue,” Waugh said. “There was goodwill amongst the crowd and there was just a really positive experience to be out there playing for Australia.”
The legendary innings has now been recreated in augmented reality so fans can watch Waugh in three dimensions playing on a pop-up crease wherever they want to place it.
Commissioned by the Sydney Cricket & Sports Ground (SCG) Trust and developed by its technology partner Avanade, the app will be offered on a HoloLens for fans during the Ashes test in Sydney in January and be added to the SCG tour. It’s also available for free download and viewable on mobile devices.
Lord of the pitch
Capturing Waugh’s movements in AR required the cricketer to don a motion capture suit, much like that famously used by actor Andy Serkis in films like Lord of the Rings and King Kong.
“It was actually a lot harder than I thought to recreate the shot because when you're playing it's just instinct, you don't think about it. To mirror the exact trigger movements that accompany each shot was difficult to achieve as they were instinctive and not manufactured,” Waugh said.
“Then when someone shows you the footage and you try to recreate it – I didn't realise there were so many little movements of my feet, my head and my hands. To get it exactly right was a lot harder than I thought but it was good fun going through the process.”
The app also gives fans the chance to take a closer (virtual) look at Waugh’s Baggy Green cap, bat, and famous red handkerchief. There’s also a ‘Selfie with Steve’ feature and footage grabs provided by the Nine Network’s Wide World of Sport.
“It was fun reliving the excitement of the day and I hope many people can now share with me the joy of scoring a century for Australia!” Waugh added.
The project is part of SCG Trust’s continuing digital transformation which began in 2014 when the Noble Bradman Messenger Stand became the first spectator facility in Australia to offer free Wi-Fi.
“The Steve Waugh AR is an exciting addition to the SCG Trust’s commitment to fan engagement, which in recent years has provided a fully-connected solution for its venues including high definition superscreens, free Wi-Fi, IPTV, and app,” said Jane Coles, general manager membership and marketing.
“The SCG Trust is proud to be leading the way in Australian sports venue technology, and using these new initiatives to celebrate our proud heritage such as Steve Waugh’s famous innings.”
Avanade said that a growing number of organisations are now experimenting with augmented reality.
“Over the last year we’ve seen organisations across different industries experimenting with augmented reality to create new experiences for customers – and in this instance sporting fans,” said Sarah Adam-Gedge, managing director of Avanade Australia.
“Increasingly these rich digital experiences are becoming the norm and we expect to see more organisations introducing augmented reality to create engaging experiences for customers,” she added.
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