Sri Lanka v Australia, 1st Test, Galle, 2nd day September 2, 2011

Umpires ask ICC to look in to Hughes' dismissal


Simon Taufel, the senior international umpire, has referred Phil Hughes' second innings lbw dismissal in the first Test between Sri Lanka and Australia to the ICC as a serious question mark against the accuracy of Hawk-Eye, the ball tracking technology. Taufel and the officiating umpires Richard Kettleborough, Aleem Dar and Tony Hill have have also sent the relevant footage of the incident to the ICC's cricket operations department.

Hughes was given out lbw on the second evening when he attempted to sweep Tillakaratne Dilshan. Replays indicated that the delivery had spun appreciably from around middle stump towards off, but the Hawk-Eye predicted path had the ball going straight on with the angle from round the wicket to to strike leg stump.

Though he reviewed the decision, Hughes was sent on his way by umpire Kettleborough after consultation with third umpire Hill who is obliged to grant significant weight to the original decision made on the field when he decides whether to reprieve or dismiss a batsman.

In Galle to conduct a third umpire accreditation seminar, Taufel has observed the first two days of the Test in part to assess the impact of technology's inconsistent use and accuracy, having umpired in England's home series against India under vastly different playing conditions and technological aids.

Taufel told ESPNcricinfo that more needed to be done to prove the veracity of devices such as Hawk-Eye, HotSpot and Virtual Eye via independent testing that sits outside the views of broadcasters and suppliers.

"Why can't we tap into technology if the match official is missing a piece of information, and is it right that the match official has to make a decision before technology can be used?" Taufel said. "That's a fundamental question I think we're still working through. Under the current system we're encouraged to make decisions and if a player feels they disagree with that then they've got the right to review. But if they get that wrong twice, then we can't use technology anymore in that innings for that particular team.

"They're the parameters we're working with and that's the value we want to promote within the sport - do we just want to get the obvious mistake fixed up or do we want to get as many decisions right as possible? What are the technology tools we have to achieve that, and then how accurate are those tools? Have we really investigated that from an independent perspective, and have we got a categorical answer with that? Is it reliable on the day, rather than just relying on the provider of that technology to say 'it is x-amount accurate and the result is right' and we just take that on face value?"

The third umpire's job in particular has become increasingly difficult as each series brings a different set of parameters for reviewing decisions, and the technological means by which they may be reviewed. Taufel said players had also become confused on the field by the transient nature of rules relating to referrals and technology.

"From the training perspective we did with the third umpire accreditation module it is very difficult, because there is no consistency of inputs," Taufel said. "How do I train and develop a third umpire when I don't know what technology tools are going to be available on the day?

"From an umpiring perspective, as a third umpire, it is incredibly challenging here [in Sri Lanka] because the frame rates used by Ten Sports per second will be different to the ones used by Sky in Britain. There's ultra-motion available in the UK, there's none of that here. We have Hotspot in the UK, we don't have Hotspot here. The camera rates used by Hawk-Eye here would be different to the camera rates used there.

"Therein lies the challenge of consistency - how can you possibly expect consistent outputs if you've got inconsistent inputs? We've also noticed the players are somewhat confused as to what they can challenge and what they can't. In the UK they couldn't challenge lbws, they could only challenge caught decisions. Here we've gone back to a different system where you can challenge both.

"Surely that's got to be difficult for the players and the match officials to keep adjusting from series to series. Our message as umpires was rather strong at the ICC cricket committee meeting where we said, we either want to use everything or nothing at all, let's try to make it consistently easier for everybody. That's what we want to work towards."

Daniel Brettig is an assistant editor at ESPNcricinfo

Comments have now been closed for this article

  • Keith on September 4, 2011, 23:45 GMT

    Probably best to drop captain/team referrals, let players appeal in the traditional way, and leave it to the umpires to integrate the technology with their own judgment. The Dravid dismissal in the England ODI is actually a success story. The Hughes dismissal is a marginal but still regrettable error, though he was given out by the on-field umpire in the first place. Ultimately it should be down to the umpires' good judgment -- something which the laws of cricket have never tried to legislate. You will not find the concept about giving the batter the benefit of the doubt anywhere in the official Laws! (End)

  • Keith on September 4, 2011, 23:43 GMT

    The Hughes dismissal at Galle probably falls in the failure category (Hawk-Eye predicted the wrong path and the umpires followed it). The Dravid dismissal falls partly within the indeterminate category (nothing on HotSpot) and umpires not being misled (the TV umpire went with the stump mike and slow-motion visuals to dismiss based on a noise that seemed to have no source except a feathered nick off the bat). This conclusion was later confirmed unofficially by Sniko. The lesson: live with the 98% and approach but never reach 100% through improvements in machinery and implementation by umpires (which is what Taufel was in Sri Lanka to help umpires do). ... (TBC)

  • Keith on September 4, 2011, 23:41 GMT

    Technology will never by 100% perfect -- that is an impossible standard to achieve. As Simon Taufel himself has noted, it enhances human umpires (92-96% accurate) to a level of about 98%. Those extra percentage points typically offer reversals of marginal calls -- rarely howlers, which the elite umpires themselves tend not to make. Lurking in the remaining 2% will be indeterminate outcomes from technology (throwing it back to the on-field umpires) and the outright failure of technology that may or may not mislead umpires. ... (TBC)

  • Akhil on September 4, 2011, 16:56 GMT

    A software may not be bug free... comparing TV replays with tracking software would have clearly shown the difference in Hughes dismissal.. However with the ball swing unpredictable, we cannot be sure if a deviation of the ball was due to an edge or swing of ball just after it went past the bat, same with LBW far ahead of the stumps. Also relying only on sound was also proved incorrect recently. So only a combination of all of these shall put enough doubt in the umpires mind to change the original decision. So improve technology and reduce human errors even after using technology based on whatever we ve learnt from the recent series of failures and wrong decisions.

  • Dummy4 on September 4, 2011, 11:20 GMT

    India and Mr. Dhoni were right, in their assessment of the new technology. Let us use it only for run outs and nothing else.

  • Jeegar on September 4, 2011, 6:53 GMT

    Hmm...The Hawk-Eye is not 100% accurate. Now where have I heard this before

  • Roger on September 4, 2011, 6:39 GMT

    DRS should be immediately withdrawn from international cricket. Let the authorities test and fine tune it in county level matches.

  • Dummy4 on September 3, 2011, 23:29 GMT

    The hawk eye is a great predictor of a ballistic path based on a few reference point. You will always beat the system if you bend it like Beckham. Wonder how the Hawk Eye would have predicted the "ball of the century". It would have had an issue with the "the spin quartet" who could curl the ball in mid air.

  • Kawal on September 3, 2011, 18:10 GMT

    ICC is supposed to be the body that controls cricket. How can there be bilateral agreements on an issue as contentious as this?

  • Chakravarthy on September 3, 2011, 16:34 GMT

    TV viewers have gotten addicted to hawk-eye. So even if ICC suspended hawk-eye the public and commentators will still refer to hawk-eye graphic, and that will create doubt in the minds of the viewers. The technology needs to be perfected or just be used as an aid and no more.

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