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Derby County hire brains behind England’s Cricket World Cup wins in new ‘Sporting Intelligence’ unit

Mo Bobat
Mo Bobat will head up Derby's new Sporting Intelligence department - Getty Images/Mike Owen

Derby County have appointed Mo Bobat, the former England cricket head of performance, to head up a new Sporting Intelligence department as they prepare for the Championship.

Bobat played a key role in England’s World Cup wins in the 20-over and 50-over formats, also working alongside the Test captain-coach partnership of Ben Stokes and Brendon McCullum.

Ed Smith, the former cricketer and England national selector, will also be joining Derby after the pair were headhunted by the club’s board following promotion from League One.

Ed Smith with former England head coach Trevor Bayliss in 2019
Ed Smith (right) is a former cricketer and England national selector - PA/Steven Paston

Derby’s strategy is designed to improve everything from team performance to recruitment and sports science, utilising cutting-edge analytics and data which will include an Artificial Intelligence programme exclusive to the club.

Bobat and Smith will work closely with manager Paul Warne, chief executive Stephen Pearce, recruitment chief Mark Thomas and academy manager Matt Hale.

The appointment of Bobat, in particular, is viewed as a significant coup by Derby’s hierarchy and owner David Clowes.

Bobat was once described by England managing director Rob Key as “the guiding hand”, playing a major part in reinvigorating their Test fortunes.

A former teacher, he became performance director in 2019 after first moving to the England Wales and Cricket Board in 2011, before departing this year.

Smith is also regarded as an exciting arrival. The former journalist and author established a reputation for combining AI with sport.

Derby have been determined to bolster their backroom departments, following an exodus of staff when the club entered into administration in September 2021.

Many coaches, analysts and recruitment staff departed or were let go, and now Derby intend to build a strong team following their return to the Championship.

Derby finished second in League One last season under Warne, who now has four promotions from the third tier.