DRS – good, spider cam – bad

Posted: November 12, 2012 in Ranting
Tags: , , , , , ,

A couple of years back, I set up a separate blog for writing about cricket. However I have been consolidating blogs to make things easier to maintain so my cricket posts are returning here to the Rant.

The First Test in the Australia v South Africa series is well underway, approaching the end of the Third Day as I begin to write, after the Second was washed out. Unless Australia has a particularly woeful effort with the bat, I suspect a draw is on the way.

My interest is in some issues outside immediate play.

The Digital Review System has been in operation for several years now. I was unhappy about the way it had been implemented, with predictive technology being used to overturn umpiring decisions by at times, the slimmest of margins. This is not what was intended by the system – it was supposed to be a means of overturning the howlers, the really bad decisions that sometimes occur. As I have blogged before, Billy Bowden is my pet hate in that respect – when he’s off, he’s really off.

The use of the DRS saw predictive technology ie Hawkeye, playing a crucial role; in the case of an LBW, if Hawkeye predicted a ball would have otherwise gone on to clip a stump by a slim margin, then in basic terms it was out. This was a slap in the face to umpires as they have an instant to make a decision. If it is close then that is not good enough as an element of doubt creeps into the mind. The rules are quite explicit on that point – the batter has to be actually ‘out’, not possibly out, not probably out. The application of the review system also saw Hawkeye being used as if it was infallible, a position I was dubious about from the outset. On one particularly memorable occasion, a batter was dismissed, bowled, with the ball just barely clipping the stump enough to dislodge the bail. And they were out – no question. Yet for some unknown reason, the television commentators on Channel Nine at the time played Hawkeye’s view of the delivery – and to their mixed embarrassment and amusement, Hawkeye showed the ball as missing the stumps!

While it has taken inexplicably long for them to do so, cricketing authorities have finally acted in a sensible fashion. No more relying on predictive technology showing a ball would have just barely hit the stumps or just barely missed. In the case of an LBW, it has to show that at least 75% of the ball would have gone on to hit the stumps. There are to be fewer decisions overturned when there was little in it to begin with. That is taking the review system to what it was always intended to be – to provide a means of rectifying the howlers – a belated but sensible decision.

Something I am not quite so keen on is the introduction of Channel Nine’s ‘spider cam.’ This is a wire suspended above the ground, carrying a camera which appears to have a form of rotating lens head, judging by some of the shots. And the nature of the camera vision being shown is undoubtedly impressive, bringing a whole new visual element to things. However technology should never be permitted to interfere with a game.

With the introduction of ‘spider cam’ cricketing authorities had to rule on what happens if the ball hits the camera or its wire. Answer: dead ball.

How high is this suspended wire at say the Gabba where this Test is being played? I don’t know. However if the authorities saw the need to make a provisional ruling in advance, then it is not an unreasonable assumption that the camera and its suspension are within reach of the ball.

Is it fair that a batter can belt the hell out of the ball, only to have it declared a deadball because it clipped the spider cam? Or a fielder have his catch overturned because on the way down it was judged to have given the wire a nudge? Even worse, could we be headed towards a whole new area of argument of whether or not the ball struck the camera or suspension system? Do we need to introduce yet more technology to determine whether or not the spider cam technology has cause to force a call of ‘dead ball?’

Sorry, Channel Nine. In this instance I believe you are in error. A pretty picture from the introduction of new technology is not justification for the potential introduction of more dead balls and interference with the game. Technology for the benefit of the broadcaster should not and must not be allowed to act in a detrimental manner towards the game itself.

  1. dba says:

    In cricket need technologies like drs hot sport. But icc not consider for whole place only sub continental place they allowed. Just don’t understand. Only in world cup they allowed, But not hot sport?

  2. ausross says:

    Thanks for the comment. However you are incorrect in saying the ICC is only allowing them in sub-continental places. Australia is not part of the sub-continent and the system has been in operation here from the outset. And in the last Australian series against India, it was the Indian authorities who refuseded to allow the DRS. By ‘hot sport’ I assume you mean ‘hot spot,’ the technology which helps to show if a ball has hit a bat etc.

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