Technology in cricket September 6, 2011

'Tracking mistake' on Hughes lbw

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Hawk-Eye's custodians have admitted the depiction of Phil Hughes' second-innings lbw dismissal in the Galle Test was rendered inaccurate by "a tracking mistake".

The visible discrepancy between Hawk-Eye's graphic and television replays led to the incident being referred to the ICC by the officiating umpires, under the governing body's conventions for the assessment of decisions made under the DRS.

Steve Carter, the managing director of Hawk-Eye Innovations, said the mistake had been the result of several factors, one of which was the fact the ball had travelled less than 40cm between pitching and striking Hughes' pad. Under Hawk-Eye's configuration for the Sri Lanka series, ball-tracking cannot be deemed conclusive if the distance between pitching and impact is less than 40cm.

"Yes, we made a tracking mistake, and the Hawk-Eye track didn't deviate enough off the wicket. We informed the ICC immediately after the game to make them aware that this was the case," Carter told ESPNcricinfo. "Despite the small distance from pitching to interception, and other mitigating circumstances that have been explained to the ICC, we should have done better. Lessons have been learnt from this instance and the probability of it happening again in the future is greatly reduced.

"Our track record as part of DRS is very good. This is our first error in a long time, and the ability of Hawk-Eye to reliably provide accurate and definitive decisions compares very favourably with other technologies and replay angles that are used to assist the umpire in different parts of the DRS protocol."

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 Hawk-Eye's prediction had the ball going straight on with the angle from round the wicket to strike leg stump. The decision was upheld not because of the errant Hawk-Eye tracking, but because the third umpire Tony Hill found insufficient evidence to reverse Richard Kettleborough's original call.

Carter said previous queries about Hawk-Eye's accuracy in the circumstances of the Hughes dismissal had led to the addition of a graphic to indicate that the point of impact was less than 40cm away from the point of pitching, meaning the onus for the decision would return to the on-field umpire's judgement. This graphic was not in place for Hughes' dismissal, however.

"There was less than 40cm of travel between the pitching point and the interception point," Carter said. "This has been an issue that has been raised in the past, and led to the implementation of the 40cm graphic. We are currently under instruction that the 40cm graphic shouldn't be displayed in the circumstances of the lbw appeal in question."

Daniel Brettig is an assistant editor at ESPNcricinfo

Comments have now been closed for this article

  • hattima on September 8, 2011, 12:18 GMT

    @DVC I agree that DRS is good, but I am not convinced about Hawkeye, because we can clearly see that they are not telling the truth regardning the limitations of their product. To me it is not clear what exactly is human error and what else is not. Hawkeye & co suppresses many factors in selling their product; this was just one of them! It is not 'error', it is commercialism. If you read closely, you'll see that they say that such were "Hawk-Eye's configuration for the Sri Lanka series", i.e. it changes series by series. Why? Because of the picture quality (in terms of frame rate) available from the broadcaster. Oddly enough, the chief of Hawk-eye said a few days ago that frame rates do not matter. Now it clearly seems that it does.

  • D.V.C. on September 8, 2011, 11:22 GMT

    @hattima: It does *improve* on the umpires, nowhere in the article does it suggest otherwise. The DRS makes mistakes far less often than the umpires will. In fact, if you read the article carefully you will see that there should have been an indication given that the ball pitched closer than 40 cm, and that the trajectory should be regarded with caution, but that someone decided that wasn't needed. That's a human error.

  • ashvenky on September 8, 2011, 9:14 GMT

    If the decision works in favour of India then UDRS,Hawk eye, hotspot all are good. Otherwsie they are at fault and we don't want to use technology.

  • hyclass on September 8, 2011, 1:26 GMT

    When Hughes was dropped in England '09, he had just been given out for 17,to a ball that bounced well in front of Strauss at slip.Neither umpire,nor the England captain claiming the catch,noticed it bouncing.While DRS would have shown it, as the replays conclusively highlighted,how was it missed in the first place and why was there no comment after play by the Australia.One wonders at dropping Hughes,based on that knowledge and the message it sent.He was 20.It lead to two single Tests, far apart and 3 Ashes tests on the back of recovering from shoulder surgery.Fast forward to Galle,2011. Hughes and Sangakkarra, both left handers,are undone by length balls exploding at their heads off a highly sub standard pitch.As this article shows, both the umpire and the DRS were mistaken in Hughes second innings.Given the knowledge,that he was not responsible for either dismissal in this test,what message is Clarke sending to Hughes?Its time that the still only 22 year old,received better support.

  • __PK on September 7, 2011, 22:28 GMT

    OK, this actually gives me MORE confidence in the technology, now that the owners have finally been forced to disclose the error margin in their predictions. Until now, all we've heard is that the technology makes impossibly precise predictions with zero margin for error. That's rubbish, as any thinking person must realise - there's always error, and the less data you use to predict (eg the 40cm proviso) and the longer the prediction (ie distance to the stumps) the greater the error must be. The predicted path that Hawkeye shows should not be a constant width, it should start off as wide as the ball and then get wider to show the uncertainty - the channel in which it's 95% confident the ball will travel. If it's a straight ball which pitched on a good length, the channel will stay pretty narrow. If it's a spinning half-volley, the channel will get wide very quickly. The decision should be in favour of the batter if it's possible for the ball to travel in the channel and miss the stumps

  • meursault on September 7, 2011, 19:46 GMT

    Wait on, so the way it works the equally qualified umpire who gets to have multiple looks at a slow motion replay has to defer to the on-field umpire who got a fleeting live look in the case of any doubt. That's just crazy!

    If the on-field umpire had seen the slow motion replay, he could never have been sure enough to give that out. Why should his colleague with better access be prevented from helping him make the correct decision?

  • hattima on September 7, 2011, 10:55 GMT

    All the people bashing BCCI for 'supporting DRS during world cup': they did not support it then, either! It was an ICC tournament, not a bilateral series, and BCCI had no say over what technology was to be used. So Sachin survived because of his own good fortune, not any underhand dealing by the BCCI.

  • hattima on September 7, 2011, 10:53 GMT

    @jfgvjksnkka, NDS and DVC: the technology is supposed to improve upon umpiring decisions, and it costs a large sum of money. If it is doing the opposite, what is the justification of using it? We now have two sets of people making wrong decisions instead of one, and costing the ICC much more than it previously used to.

  • sifter132 on September 7, 2011, 10:07 GMT

    "The decision was upheld not because of the errant Hawk-Eye tracking, but because the third umpire Tony Hill found insufficient evidence to reverse Richard Kettleborough's original call". Well there's only one thing that Tony Hill could have used as evidence - Hawkeye!! So saying Hawkeye's tracking had nothing to do with the decision being upheld is very misleading...

  • wrenx on September 7, 2011, 7:06 GMT

    @maddy20 the WC semi-final was hardly a drubbing, and Pakistan performed well above expectations throughout the tournament, and should have nothing to feel ashamed about. As for "getting over it", I imagine your (and many people's) tunes would be rather different if the shoe was on the other foot. The point isn't to argue that India didn't deserve to win the word cup, they were always favourites to go on and win. The point is that Hawk-Eye's intervention proved to be a severe detriment to the game in that instance, and it shouldn't be excusable, just because it supposedly works well some of the time. Human errors at crucial moments can sting and cause us to bristle with a sense of injustice, but we can move on. When it's the technology, that is boasting of accuracy and impartiality, that tilts a game, then it just takes all the fun out of cricket.

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