Decision Review System July 6, 2011

Holding not a fan of ball-tracking technology

ESPNcricinfo staff

Former West Indies fast bowler and noted commentator Michael Holding has backed the use of technology in umpiring decisions, though he believes ball-tracking should be done away with since it is inaccurate. During last week's annual conference, the ICC - following the BCCI's sustained opposition to ball-tracking - decided to do away with it as one of the compulsory technological aids for decision-making, while making the DRS mandatory in ODIs and Tests.

"I have never been a fan of the projected path of the ball," Holding said during a round-table discussion at the MCC Spirit of Cricket lecture. "What HawkEye has produced with regards to the actual path of ball, where the ball has landed and where it has gone on to hit whatever - the bat or the pad - I am 100% happy with that.

"The projected path of the ball [though] is a calculation. Obviously it has a margin of error, [but] they won't call it that since they don't want to hear the word 'error'. That's why whenever it is hitting the stumps or projected to be hitting the stumps, they leave it to the umpire's call. If you are leaving it to the umpire's call, that means you are thinking whatever you are showing is not 100% correct … So everything except the projected path I am happy with."

While paring down the DRS, the ICC also rejected the visual aid provided by the pitch mat, again on the BCCI's insistence, a move that Holding criticised. "That mat is placed there by an immovable camera," he said. "[It shows] where the ball is being pitched, and that has been shown to be 100% correct, so I have no problems with that. I don't see why India don't want to use it."

Holding was critical of the BCCI's inordinate power in running the world game, an issue that has been discussed widely following the manner in which decisions were made at the conference. "I don't believe any country should be able to dictate to the world, whatever game it is," he said. "Brazil dominated football for many World Cups. They could not go to FIFA and say 'this is what we want in the next World Cup'. [But] They could never ever dictate the path of the sport.

"As far as I am concerned, it is the organisation running the game that should dictate the path. I am seeing an individual board dictating certain things, which I cannot agree with."

Andrew Strauss and Kumar Sangakkara, who have captained in matches with the DRS in use, were supportive of the use of technology in decision-making, though they differed in their opinions over the implementation of DRS. Sangakkara wanted umpires to use technology at their discretion, without the players having to review decisions, while Strauss was happy with the existing system.

"It adds to the spectacle of the game when the players can challenge decisions, the crowds like it, and it gives the captains decisions to make, some of them strategic as to when and against which players you might use your calls," Sangakkara said. "At the same time, I am a great believer in leaving it to the three umpires; if they need assistance to make their decision, let them ask for that. And allow the three umpires to sort it out among themselves."

Strauss said the DRS was good for cricket since it helped in getting better decisions and did not undermine umpires. "I must admit I had problems with DRS when it was first mooted. I worried about players being involved in the decision-making process - it is very contrary to what the game of cricket is all about, which is that the umpires make the final decision," Strauss said. "But having seen it work, and having seen umpires get used to the idea, I don't think they feel so much undermined now.

"A lot of the times the best umpires come out with their reputations enhanced by the DRS. I think everyone has got used to it, and we get more decisions right as a result of it, therefore it is for the betterment of the game of cricket."

Comments have now been closed for this article

  • Biso on July 8, 2011, 7:38 GMT

    I would like to get results of one experiment. Let the bowler bowl a short rising ball & let hawk eye track the ball till it reaches the distance of the stumps after which switch off ( virtually) the tracking data and predict the path of the ball till maybe just half way between the stumps and the wicket keeper. Compare with the actual path. You will see how ridiculous the predicted path is under various conditions. I can bet, it will not be possible to find any calibration algorithm even with experimental data from thousands of such trials made under different conditions. Many people are simply talking out of their hats about ball path prediction. I am not trying to say that an umpire can predict better. I do not have any data to make that statement. BCCI definitely has some valid reservations against paying for such technology which is not yet proven . Is it not ICC which is trying to push some technologies that are half backed at this stage(or perhaps trying to patronise some)?

  • Manoj on July 8, 2011, 6:47 GMT

    @johnathonjosephs You are out of your depth. Usage in Tennis is for the actual point of contact, not the projected point of contact. Hawkeye is inaccurate for uneven bounce, windy conditions, ball conditions, two paced pitches ... Hawkeye can never predict the swing or reverse swing on the ball, neither can it predict the path of spinning ball, or the actual amount of spin, cutters et al. I would love to see Warny bowl the famous Gatting Delivery again and see Hawkeye attempting to predict its path!!! It is just a computer simulation, I do not see any rigourous published test data and so Hawkeye Ball tracking should simply be done away with. It is just a company trying to peddle its wares without much testing on actual conditions.

  • J on July 8, 2011, 5:16 GMT

    @johnathonjosephs - absolutely agree with you on the last part of your statement. Also wish to emphasis on what Sanga has said about DRS, "It adds to the spectacle of the game when the players can challenge decisions, the crowds like it, and it gives the captains decisions to make, some of them strategic as to when and against which players you might use your calls". Now, if people are looking for 100% accuracy then cricket would be confined to only video game parlors.

  • Suresh on July 8, 2011, 5:03 GMT

    SIR MICHAEL ANTHONY HOLDING, I have to admit it has a nice ring to it.

  • Praveen on July 8, 2011, 2:11 GMT

    Holding is too old it seems, the ball tracking technology is absolutely Great, this world is not perfect there is never 100% perfection

  • Johnathon on July 7, 2011, 21:34 GMT

    It is sad to see one of my heroes, Michael Holding, lashing out against projected paths of the ball. No offense, but most cricketers should stick to just playing cricket, because the intelligence of many cricketers is really not that high. I really thought that Holding was an educated guy though. His views on "margin of errors" are ludacris. Yes, technology has margins of errors, and no matter how far into the future you are it will have errors but even today the margin of error for hawkeye is .1% (it is actually 99.9% accurate and used for a lot more sports such as Tennis and association football). Obviously a margin of error of .1% can not even compare to an umpire's margin of error, so what is the debate here? Do not understand why people are opposing this. One day in the future we will look back and wonder why we even thought of refusing such blessings.

  • Ajay on July 7, 2011, 19:06 GMT

    I abhor some of the strong arm tactics BCCI has used in the past. But in the DRS case they seem to be the only sane voice. They agree to the use of hotspot and line decisions. Using technology up to the point of impact to avoid obvious howlers is acceptable to all. Disagreement comes over the predictive part of ball tracking and should be further discussed. Mike Holding damns BCCI out of force of habit but agrees that they might be right about it after all (well not in so many words but in principle). Now, we understand that even hot spot is only 95% accurate. Ball tracking track record is poorer than International elite umpires average. Does this not merit more discussion or research OR damning BCCI is so satisfying that cricket be damned!

  • Sandy on July 7, 2011, 16:12 GMT

    So much discussion on ball tracking. Why ? The makers of the ball tracking themselves conceded (recent article on cricinfo) that they are working hard to progress this technology to be 100%. They have admitted that it is not accurate. So lets be happy that the ICC has moved in the right direction by making DRS mandatory. As soon as ball tracking technology reaches an acceptable level that will also be made mandatory. The pitch mat should be made mandatory for sure.

  • Dummy4 on July 7, 2011, 15:26 GMT

    The brazil example shows the level of understanding Holding has in this matter, Brazil and India are different! Brazil was never the financial powerhouse of football and India was never consistently winning ICC eventss as Brazil. BCCI has bargaining power not because India is top ranked in tests and world champs in ODI, but because they control the finances!

  • Dummy4 on July 7, 2011, 15:20 GMT

    @Tahir1234 : Every team always needs services of the past. Atleast India need services of Kapil and Gavaskar. But going by the current Pakistani team may need all 11 players from past....However even then winning against India in a world cup match will still remain a dream.Even iif Imran and other return ..lack of bottlecaps will still render them in effective.

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