Cricket and Technology !

Most people do not know that the International Cricket council (ICC) has over 140 member countries and the sport is being played and watched by an ever larger group of audience now than ever before. The 10 larger cricket playing nations are the more famous of the lot, but definitely the audience of cricket considering that India and china are also in the 140 countries means that the audience is now massive. The introduction of technology for the betterment of the viewing experience as well as the training of players and umpires is something that gets majorly overlooked in the context of a cricket match. I have here enlisted a few technologies that have shaped my viewing experience with cricket and look forward to the future with some more innovative technologies.

Instant replay

One of the first change of the cricket viewing experience was the instant replay, today we see the replay of every ball and each and every shot played and great moments in each game, this was one of the “state of the art” introductions to cricket viewing, we now take it for granted to check each ball in the replay as much as possible.


Super slow motion

Well the Instant replay required a real uplift since it is being around for a long time. The latest addition that is not yet widespread used is the super slow motion cameras, showing the frames that are missed out by the regular cameras. The very few executions of these cameras have shown how split seconds are as important in this game as any other.


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Zoomer

The Zoomer is another natural propagation of the camera replays and the super slow motion cameras just to display the accurate position of the ball of whether the ball touched the ground before being caught or the ball hit the bat before hitting the pad and take a catch. There is definitely an inquisitiveness that involves in finding out what actually happened especially if it was a crucial wicket etc.


Eyes and ears of the stump

The next great change for viewing the cricket for the Television audience was the eyes and ears of the stump. I think everyone has seen the stumps being broken either by the bowler bowling the batsman over or the fielder breaking the stumps, all through the eyes of the stump cam. Well there has been more than one proof of sledging between players which are very clear through the microphone in the stump. This microphone also then gave another interesting addition to cricket, which is our next topic.


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Snick-o-meter

With the camera being in the stump, the miniature noises around the stump could be magnified and the image representation of the sound file could be seen, this was instrumental in using the snick-o-meter to specifically check if the batsman had nicked the ball on the way to the wicket keeper. This is a very interesting technology but not without its shortcomings, in very close calls between the bat, ball and the pads, it could not distinguish the sound of the ball hitting the bat or the pad or the bat hitting the pad, even through the snick-o-meter is seen in conjunction with a super slow motion video.


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Reaction time

Reaction timers are something that show the skill of fielders and bowlers with unbelievable proof. I have been awestruck at the fielding of Johnty Rhodes, Herschelle Gibbs and even India’s Yuvraj Singh on how they are able to pick the ball out of seemingly thin air. And the fact that the fielders did it in less than half a second was even as astounding as the catch itself. I think that along with the batting and bowling averages, the fielders need to have statistics as well, with their fastest reaction times shown.


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Speed gun

Radars have been known to most of the western world as a tool used to fine them when they speed up on the highways in their cars, but having them on the cricket field gives people an interesting perspective in the bowlers mind. Especially, when the world has seen the enormous success that T20 cricket has bought to the game, the variations of the bowlers in speed as much in line and length have been praised and appreciated by commentators, players and viewers alike. Its bringing the viewers closer to the game than ever before.


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Run out ruler

People always were of the view that close photo finishers were only for the track and field events, and that was shattered by the introduction of the cameras for cross verifying the field umpires doubts of the run-out decisions. But there was no quantifiable measure to check how much the ball won over the batsman or vice versa. Well Run out ruler to the rescue, although I have not seen too many implementations of this technology in many matches, this seems to be a technology that will grow on users.


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Hawk eye

Hawkeye is different from other technologies used in Cricket, in that it is a predictive tool. The way Hawkeye is supposed to work is, it observes the trajectory of a delivery at various points, till say it hits the batsman’s pads, and then predicts its trajectory past that point based on various additional factors, like speed, how it got off the pitch, etc. Now, I understand that there are limitations to the predictive curves that Hawkeye gives, that it’s not 100% right, and probably won’t be in the near future. But then before a gadget is discarded, we must measure its effectiveness — both absolute and w.r.to. the alternatives! And the introduction of Hawk eye has brought along with it a host of other statistics that are invaluable for statisticians as well as viewers, here are a few below.


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Wagon wheel
The singles, 2s, 3s, 4s and 6s that make up quick-fire 50s or vital centuries are represented by the different colors of the Wagon Wheel, which shows the areas of the field that the batsman has been targeting. Hawk-Eye now has the ability to display wagon wheels over photo realistic or virtual realistic backgrounds, giving broadcasters even more scope to tailor the Hawk-Eye ‘look’ towards the style of their production.


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Pitch map

Simple yet effective; Pitch Maps make a useful pause for reflection after the frenetic exchanges of the opening overs and highlight a bowler’s consistency or expensiveness, line and length. Hawk-Eye can now display comparative Pitch Maps in a split screen format, as shown in the example to the right.


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Beehive

Beehives show where the ball has passed the batsman. As with the Pitch Map, the colored balls correspond to the number of runs that the batsman has achieved from that delivery. Hawk-Eye Beehives can now be shown against a photo realistic or virtual realistic world, as with the Wagon Wheel feature.



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Ball Speed

Hawk-Eye now has the ability to supply ball speeds as reliably as a radar gun, as demonstrated during the ICC World Twenty20 in South Africa.


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Deviation

Hawk-Eye DeSpin Graphics demonstrate how far a delivery has deviated after pitching. Whilst the blue trajectory below represents a ball that does not spin or seam, the red ‘actual delivery’ shows just how much turn the spinner has achieved.


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Rail cam

The ‘RailCam’ (side view) shot of the VR World can be used to represent differences in speed, bounce and delivery. The trajectories are animated, whilst the speeds provide further evidence of a bowler’s variation or a telling comparison between athletes.


New Technolgogies that are being introduced or are coming around the corner


Hotspot

Heat seeker

In a fascinating and unusual tale of technology transfer, the latest broadcasting device to enrich the armchair fan’s viewing experience is based on a system more commonly found on armoured tanks and fighter jets. Hot Spot, unveiled by Sky Sports during the summer’s first test match between England and the West Indies, uses powerful infrared cameras to detect the distinct thermal signature left when a cricket ball hits a pad, clips the edge or flies off the middle of the bat. Hot Spot technology has also detected a few other distinct heat signatures that viewers have hitherto not been made privy too. If you thought technology was putting the Umpire’s decision making under intense scrutiny, you’re right, but the scrutiny doesn’t end there. Hot Spot, it transpires, can also detect flatulence aka farts. That’s right. The Channel Nine technicians “see” Umpires and Players breaking wind. One can only wonder if they’ve actually been keeping score, as it were. You’d have to imagine baked-beans-on-toast Warney would be somewhere at the top end of the rankings.


Bowling Machine

Bowling gun

A machine that can replicate the spin and swing of bowlers has been developed at a UK university. The robotic bowler has been created at Loughborough University as part of a virtual reality project to improve match training for cricket. “Cricketers want to be able to face bowlers like Shane Warne,” said project lead Dr Andy West. The machine will help us to figure out the science of bowling and the mysteries of spin and swing and that’s for the future spinners to benefit from. The spin and swing is put on the ball by a combination of two spinning wheels and a barrel which uses rifling theory to add side-spin.


Pulse SMS Predictor

Pulse – SMS

With the advent of the web 2.0 revolution and all the great additions of social media, Cricket and sport in general is being trying to find a way to use the wave to its advantage. Pulse is a free online application that connects us the fans with live sporting events. What’s unique about Pulse is that it’s integrated with the live television broadcast. Pulse asks fans questions relating to the event, we then take the answers and broadcast them on television to show the public’s opinion. For fans who like to predict the outcome of the match/race then the Pulse Predictor is for you. Predict on a variety of outcomes and win points if you’re right. Pulse also features live text commentary and live stats giving you a deeper insight into the game. I really enjoyed using pulse this time during the IPL 2009.

Future Technologies for cricket

Technology, however, is constantly improving. Infrared cameras have been tested in place of snick-o-meters; they can pick up friction readings, and are close to 100 per cent accurate in detecting snicks. There are now also balls available with built-in speedometers. Fit a transmitting device on such a ball, and you can have the speed of the ball at any given instant. With so much competition between rival broadcasters, the race is on to maximize the viewing pleasure. One plan is to put wireless tracking devices on individual players. This device would measure and transmit live data during the game, to a central computer. Parameters tracked by this device include the running speed of a player, a bowler’s speed during the run-up, the maximum speed and average running speed, the number of times a player changes direction, distances travelled, heart rates, etc. Very soon, such data relating to the bowler and fielders will be flashed to viewers. Commentators will also have a lot more data about individual players at their disposal. But imagine the pressure it will put on the fielders. Today it is only the umpires who are scrutinized for their decisions. Soon, it will be possible to minutely analyze every player’s activities on the field in real time. Lets take a closer look at some of the changes that are happening now

now continuing the topic from this piece in the age.

Player Equipment: the modern player is spoiled when compared to his forbearers light weight pads that offer more protection then ever before. The modern batting helmet which is light and much cooler than the enervating motorbike helmet that Tony Greig wore during WSC (Greig still annoyingly refers to the modern batting helmet as a “Crash Helmet”). The dynamically designed bowling boots, which are light but offer much more support than the heavy military style boots that Lol Larwood had to wear.

But it is the modern bat that technology has had the greatest impact, light weight and ‘all middle’. Even the handle which was once just a turned piece of cane, is now anywhere from a two to a 12 piece cane handle with multi-rubber insertions bound with synthetic glue. Modern bats themselves are around three pounds and pick up like toothpicks. The pitch will also have a large impact on which bat the modern player will choose. For a slow wicket the bat will have a lower swell anywhere from four or five inches from the toe. For a faster wicket the swell will be about seven to eight inches from the toe. The face of how the bat looks is also changing at a very rapid pace, the infamous Ricky Ponting bat using carbon fiber was center of great controversy, have a look at what else might be in the pipeline. Read about the bat that could change cricket forever. And a bat that has a lot more technology built into it. Check out the work by the MCC and closer universities.

The cricket ball is not to be left behind in the technological revolution, after especially proving that cricket balls are not consistent during manufacture even being from the same make and company there has been a great need to include technology into cricket balls as well, to try to make it consistent. So lo and behold, the cricket ball that measures its own speed featuring one which is patented in china and also the new pink colored cricket balls to avoid the visibility issues with the red balls as well as the white balls which get dirty quickly.