Decision Review System

Harper says technology 'not the aid it is claimed'

Daniel Brettig

July 15, 2011

Comments: 71 | Text size: A | A

Ricky Ponting refers a decision after Aleem Dar turned down an lbw appeal, Australia v England, 1st Test, Brisbane, 3rd day, November 27, 2010
Harper - 'At the moment [technology] is not the aid that I believe it is claimed to be' © Getty Images
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Technology is "not the aid it is claimed to be" in reviewing on-field decisions, the former international umpire Daryl Harper has said.

Having been at the centre of a decision-making storm that hastened his departure from Test cricket, Harper highlighted the problem of broadcast camera frame-rates as a central issue to the use of technology and the success or failure of the DRS.

In the series between West Indies and India, which did not employ the DRS, Harper said television cameras shot at 25 frames per second, while during the World Cup on the subcontinent, they were ratcheted up to 50 frames per second.

In each case, Harper believed, there was a high probability that the camera would not capture the ball landing or making contact with bat, pads or gloves, calling into question the veracity of replays and ball-tracking technology.

"When a batsman plays a shot well away from his body, and you as an umpire see the ball strike a glove, go through to the keeper, and you hear the sound, you can draw no other conclusion than it has been gloved to the keeper and the batsman is out," Harper told ESPNcricinfo.

"That it can't be confirmed by a camera at 25 frames per second, that's technology's problem. If they were filming at 1800 frames per second, like those super slow-mos, you'd see the glove depressed with the contact from the ball."

Even at the improved rate of frames utilised during the World Cup, Harper argued the evidence could remain sketchy, particularly for ball-tracking. This issue, raised consistently by the Indian board, had seen a revised version of the DRS introduced at the ICC's annual conference in Hong Kong.

The mandatory terms and conditions for the DRS that were approved consisted of infra-red cameras and audio-tracking devices. The ball-tracking technology has been removed from the ICC's original compulsory list of DRS technologies. This means that countries may still choose to use it, but can also use the system without ball-tracking, as will be the case in the upcoming England v India Test series.

"At 50 frames per second there is a very slim chance of the ball ever being captured making contact with the pitch when it actually lands, because there is a minimum of 60cm [of the ball travelling] between frames," Harper said. "If the cameras cannot capture the ball touching the pitch, I'm not quite sure how they can claim the degree of accuracy they do claim.

"So the more advanced technology becomes - unfortunately it is more expensive - the more likely the technology will be of a positive assistance to the game. At the moment it is not the aid that I believe it is claimed to be."

Harper's scepticism bears resemblance to that of India's players and board, as best articulated by N Srinivasan, the BCCI secretary. Before the ICC annual conference decided on a revised version of the DRS that eliminated ball-tracking technology, Srinivasan said the hardware had to be beyond suspicion if it was to be used.

"Nothing much has changed since we first opposed it. We welcome technology when it is 100% error-free," Srinivasan told the Indian Express in June. "In this case it is not, so we would continue to oppose the implementation of the DRS.

"The Hawk-Eye is yet to convince us. This is a technology that deals with the projection, trajectory and angle of the ball. And from where the cameras are placed, it cannot give a foolproof solution. We raised these issues when the company had made a presentation in Chennai and no-one was completely certain about its accuracy."

Daniel Brettig is an assistant editor at ESPNcricinfo

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Posted by   on (July 18, 2011, 21:48 GMT)

@Cricket_Analyst. You are right. It is difficult for us. But some like me don't want to give up. T have not missed a test match at the Queens Park Oval since India beat us by scoring 400+ to win the game way back in the 70's with Gavaskar and Vishwanth getting big scores. So you know how frustrated I am now. But I will continue to go to games in hope. What we need is the rest of the cricket world to support us and rally for our return to our best. When you bring us down our frustrations make us post irrational comments out of jealously I guess.

Posted by Cricket_Analyst on (July 18, 2011, 2:06 GMT)

@John Duch : I don't need to speak on behalf of my team as their performance on field is sufficient enough to answer all their critics. I can understand mate, its been a LOOOOOOOOONG time since West Indies won a Test Match against India, a side which it used to brush away easily prior to 90's. Its difficult to come to terms with that for lots of West Indies Fans.

Posted by   on (July 17, 2011, 20:58 GMT)

Cricket_Analyst I am going to speak out on behalf of the West Indies and WI players. You can speak on behalf of Indian players if you so wish. I have been supporting my team since the days of Clive Lloyd LOOOOOOOOONG before India started winning test matches. I was there when Bedi declared the fourth innings of a Test Match.

Posted by mohsin9975 on (July 17, 2011, 6:07 GMT)

There seems great hue and cry over sachin been given shoulder before wicket. Whats wrong in it?Sachin is a short man. When he crouches his shoulders come in line with stump height. It doesnt matter even if he or any batsman is given helmet b4 wicket or even elbow,thigh,back,deliberate gloving or any part of the body other than using his bat. People wudnt hav hyped this issue if it was anyother short batsman say an ashraful or other lowprofile batter say strauss,sarwan or even dravid. An lbw is any part of body of batsman obstructing the ball from hitting the stumps. Do not blame any umpire for adjudicating any batsman out in this fashion. Even if the batsman is sachin and the umpire is harper. This comes frm a sachin fan

Posted by Cricket_Analyst on (July 17, 2011, 2:59 GMT)

@ John Duch : You are only cribbing about wrong decisions received by your team. Why Don't You look at the replays of 1st test before commenting. Whether it's Suresh Raina, or Virat Kohli while batting or Chanders & Bravo while bowling, India was suffering at the hands of Umpires.As far as dig regarding DRS is concerned, i am sure the margin of victory of India would have been much larger. Unless the replays are doctored, as happened in the case of DHONI.Well we had a problem with WI & WI Umpires LOOOOOOOOOOOOG before DRS

Posted by Cricket_Analyst on (July 17, 2011, 2:53 GMT)

I am looking that the most of the comments are being centered around how BCCI is right / wrong. But the the motive of the interview by Harper in this case needs to be understood. His first reaction to all the wrong decisions given in the test was that he had just given 2 wrong decisions(actually 5, all against India) & that could have been overturned if DRS was being used, which was indirectly blaming BCCI/ Team India. Then he makes comments on India Players which were never captured on any stump microphones. My Guess is,he is frustrated of having lost his Job with ICC, he has carefully studied the Jamaica Test Match and realized his blunders. Hence he is stating that technology which highlighted his wrong decisions is not perfect. By giving this interview, he is contradicting himself and has put his foot in his Mouth. Point 2 ICC : How come it produces bizzare statistics to support a failing an Aus / Eng/ SA umpire whereas any subcon umpire is dumped unceremoniously?

Posted by Jim1207 on (July 17, 2011, 2:09 GMT)

DVC, the problem here is how much hawk-eye is reliable as you explain. We never heard good arguments from BCCI, very true. but we never heard such a technical argument from hawk-eye as well, may be if people like you or any independent organization could test it properly and approve, we can say that hawk-eye is reliable. John Duch, can you also re-check with how west indians appealed during the series, it would help us a lot to have a balanced conversation.

Posted by   on (July 17, 2011, 1:05 GMT)

@DocBindra. Indian players and BCCI had problems with DRS loooooooong before Harper gave his opinion. WE know that but who is going to speak on behalf of players like Chanderpaul who was struck on the pad almost a foot (12 inches) outside the offstump and after a loud appeals by Indian players including Dhoni who was behind the stumps was given out by Mr Gould. With no DRS he just had to trundle off. Well we had a problem with India players appealing LOOOOOOOOOOOOG before DRS.

Posted by D.V.C. on (July 16, 2011, 21:41 GMT)

@Biso: If you have enough frames after the ball bounces then you don't need the CoR. Spin and drag are trickier, yes, and I did simplify my comment somewhat. However, the ball spins less vigorously after it pitches, and it too may be calculated given enough frames (seam position) - the computer should be able to do as good a job as a human in that respect. Of course there will be multiple solutions because of the sampling frequency, but knowing an expected range will help (the spin the ball has before it pitches can help with that). The deviation from a parabolic path is a result the combination of drag and spin. If you determine spin, then what you are left with is drag. So, that's all the unknowns taken care of pretty much. You can also use previous balls to help calibrate the coefficient of drag. The condition of the ball shouldn't change a lot between the start of the over and the end, nor will the atmospherics, so the drag should be pretty similar.

Posted by   on (July 16, 2011, 12:17 GMT)

No sour grapes please Mr Harper! You are human so you must make mistakes - just admit them. Don't make any scapegoat out of something else for your human nature to make mistakes. You should understand that the technology would always be more accurate than human, once it is accurately programmed to do a job. Only one time in millions something will go wrong. You umpires make too many mistakes. I also think umpires are put in their positions to 'SEE' first and any other sense such as hearing should be a last resort. Physics prove that two objects moving in opposite directions usually create a sound at their immediate point of impact - wheter they touch when the sound would be loud and clear; or if 'even though they do not touch 'when the sound could still be heard', but much more muted; or not heard at all. So ICC, please let the umpires see and 'NOT HEAR' when decisions for catches are involved.

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Daniel Brettig Assistant editor Daniel Brettig had been a journalist for eight years when he joined ESPNcricinfo, but his fascination with cricket dates back to the early 1990s, when his dad helped him sneak into the family lounge room to watch the end of day-night World Series matches well past bedtime. Unapologetically passionate about indie music and the South Australian Redbacks, Daniel's chief cricketing achievement was to dismiss Wisden Almanack editor Lawrence Booth in the 2010 Ashes press match in Perth - a rare Australian victory that summer.
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