Technology –a boon or a bane to Cricket

Technology –a boon or a bane to Cricket
An honest opinion on how the Cricket World Cup
has changed over the last few years based on the advent of technology, a blog
by the true and honest me.
When we talk of the advent of technology in the
cricketing field, the immediate picture that comes in our mind is the UDRS. The
Umpire Decision Review System, from the time it was officially adopted by the
ICC had been a matter of debate, whether it is between the cricketing boards,
the players, the ex-players, the experts and commentators alike. Even the
general viewers and the cricket buffs have not been spared of this debate.
The most widely argued reason for the debate on
the UDRS is due to the controversies it has created, every time it has been
tried out for adoption in any cricketing match. The controversy and the
argument always had been over the contentious issue of the accuracy of the
technology, with the teams and players coming up with their views and counter
views based on their share of knowledge of and experiences with the technology.
I would
not be using my space here to explain what exactly UDRS is but for the novices
in cricket, I wouldn’t be
doing justice if I do not at least run through it. UDRS as the full form of one
of the alphabets of the acronym itself suggests, is the new review system
launched by ICC in November 2009 first introduced in test matches and later
made mandatory in all matches from October 2011.
Under the UDRS, each team is allowed to make
unlimited successful and two unsuccessful review requests per innings during a
match to review a non out or out decision, which can be availed either by the fielding
captain or the batsman being declared dismissed, by signaling a “T sign” using
both the arms.
The technology that is used in the UDRS may
vary from the much simpler Hawk-Eye, the relatively easier Snickometer to the
more sophisticated Hot-Spot.
The Hawk-Eye, which is a just a computer based
technology which just tries to visually track the trajectory of the ball and
record the most likely statistical path of the moving ball. This is a much
simpler method and can be used only to indicate whether the ball would or would
not have gone one to hit the stumps in a leg-before-the-wicket decision.
The more sophisticated technology which is the
talk of all debates on UDRS is the Hot-Spot, which is an infra-red imaging
system which is used to determine whether the ball has struck the bat or pads
or any other part of the batsman’s body
during its travel and where it has struck.
The raging debate on the use of Hot-Spot is the
whooping cost involved in it, which seems to be approximately around $56,000
per day, which translates to close to Rs.25 lakhs in Indian currency. Though
the cost is surely a concern, it is quite ironical that the richest cricketing
body in the world, the BCCI is vehemently opposing this on the matter of the
cost.
The high cost of this technology is due to the
fact that it requires two infra-red cameras to be installed on opposite sides
of the ground above the play area which continuously records the images.
Wherever there is a snick or bat/pad event, it gets recorded in the infra-red
image by way of a bright spot due to the elevation of the local temperature
recorded where the contact friction happens. Sounds too technical, yeah it is.
Another simpler variation of it is the
snickometer which is used to graphically analyse the sound and video and hence
tries to confirm whether there was a fine noise, or snick as the ball passes
the bat.
The technology being adopted is certainly a great
boon for the game of cricket and hence it has been responded quite positively
by most of the players. Though surely human errors cannot be completely
dispensed with, this technology has certainly helped in reducing these errors
to the minimum.
However, we must also admit the fact that
technology is created by humans and therefore they also may be fallible at
times. The creators of this technology, themselves going around declaring the
possibility of high percentage of inaccuracy, add fuel to the already raging
debate.
We should also be honest to state that the
hot-spot may perhaps not pick up feather touches which does not result in
substantial change in temperature, or the haw-eye just predicts the
predetermined path of the ball, as programmed by the software but does not
consider the amount of seam, bounce or spin, it would have actually got, in the
real sense. But all in all, we all would need to admit that it has reduced
human error to the minimum.
In my opinion, embracing technology is always
good, in any part of life, and cricket is so exception, but the existing flaws
in the UDRS system should be pruned up and it should be made consistent and
100% accurate so as to avoid further controversies. I also feel that this
technology should more and more be used in domestic level matches too (of
course the cost is to be borne in mind), so that the players and umpires get
used to it and understand its usage more effectively and efficiently.
Further the review system should be consistent
in its results or else instead of improving umpiring decisions, it would only
lead to increasing the number of controversies relating to non only on-field
umpiring but third-umpiring as well. When I say this, I would need to refer to
the recent case of a match in the World Cup where a batsman was found trapped
in front of the stumps twice. The first time, the batsman was given not out by
the on-field umpire and when the fielding team called for review, found that
the ball was hitting the leg stump and hence the on-field umpire was allowed to
sustain his original decision. The second time, the same batsman was given out
by the on-field umpire, and when the batsman called for review, found again
that the ball was hitting the leg stump and hence the on-field umpire was
allowed to sustain his original decision. Sounds funny, but on both occasions,
the ball was hitting the leg stump, but the first time, because the appealing
team reviewed it, it went against them because they were challenging the
on-field umpire and the second time, it went 
against the reviewing batsman, because he too was challenging the on-field
umpire’s decision.
UDRS is a challenge for many umpires too, with
the case of a senior Umpire being removed from important matches of the World
Cup because most of the cases reviewed against his decision had gone against
him, is also a thought to ponder.
In conclusion, I would say that technology need
to be pruned and fine-tuned and the flaws removed to provide 100% accuracy or
else the controversy surrounding it will continue and we will have more and
more “spot”-on debates on this “hot”topic,
but will still end up realising that the “feather” touch is still wanted and there is still so
more to catch the “eye”.
Written for the #BloggerDreamTeam

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