Technology in cricket

Sutherland a fan of ball-tracking

Brydon Coverdale

September 7, 2011

Comments: 12 | Text size: A | A

Hawk-Eye graphic of the delivery from Glenn McGrath that bowled Ian Bell, Australia v England, 5th Test, Sydney, 1st day, January 2, 2007
Despite the recent Phil Hughes controversy, James Sutherland remains a fan of ball-tracking © Hawk-Eye Innovations
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Cricket Australia's chief executive, James Sutherland, believes cricket will hold itself up to ridicule unless technology used in the decision review system is consistent across all series. However, Sutherland said he still supported the inclusion of Hawk-Eye in the DRS, despite an error with the ball-tracking during the first Test in Galle, when Phil Hughes was judged lbw in the first innings.

Replays indicated the ball that Hughes tried to sweep had turned before striking his leg, but Hawk-Eye instead showed the ball going straight on with the arm and hitting the stumps. Part of the problem was that the ball had travelled less than 40 centimetres between pitching and striking Hughes, which meant Hawk-Eye's prediction was not at its most accurate.

But there was no graphic that alerted TV viewers to that fact, whereas such a graphic had been used in previous cases, including at the World Cup. While the technology was not responsible for Hughes' dismissal - he was given out by the on-field umpire, Richard Kettleborough, and the third official, Tony Hill, did not find enough evidence to overturn the call - Sutherland said consistency was still required.

"We continue to see little quirks in the system," Sutherland said in Melbourne on Wednesday. "Part of that is that there isn't a consistency of application across all international cricket matches. That's something that I would like to see, consistency in the type of applications that are used, as in the breadth, but also in the specific types of technology.

"All those things are important. Until we actually get that consistency, I think we're going to find ourselves open to ridicule for not quite getting it right. It is partly a financial issue. There are other issues about access to equipment at the moment and some other concerns that member countries have."

Sutherland is preparing to head to London next week for ICC meetings, where he said the DRS was likely to be on the agenda. He said that despite the Hughes incident, ball-tracking was helping to improve the accuracy of umpiring decisions, and the most important thing was to ensure the batsman retained the benefit of the doubt.

"I'm very comfortable with the tracking," he said. "I think that we need to continue to have mechanisms by which umpires can make judgments about where the technology is not working, or falling down. One of my concerns is that under the laws of the game the batsman should always have the benefit of the doubt and he should never lose that benefit of the doubt. Sometimes perhaps, it would appear to me at least, that technology is confusing that."

Brydon Coverdale is an assistant editor at ESPNcricinfo

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Posted by bigtrev02 on (September 9, 2011, 4:18 GMT)

The ball-tracking issue is the one that is very problematic. It is bad enough for spin bowlers but for swing bowlers it is diabolical. The reason is simple: ball-tracking never shows anything than a mathematical deviation. The ball changes direction and then keeps going on that path. In reality, this is a load of nonsense. Any cricketer worth their salt will tell you that the ball swings exponentially, that is, the further the ball travels, the greater the amount of swing, making a mathematical or geometric change of direction totally irrelevant. One of the best examples of swing bowling I ever saw was Manoj Prabhaker bowling into a "doctor" at Perth. He was unplayable. On the question of swing bowling, it is good to see some of our newer fast bowlers actually able to perform this feat. It seems we have had years of our fast bowlers being very fast - and very straight. Well done, Trent Copeland, for bringing back a bit of subtlety.

Posted by   on (September 9, 2011, 2:36 GMT)

The whole issue is a mess! DRS should only assist and not replace umpires. Umpires need to get better and especially with lbws, DRS should help eliminate bloopers. We're solving the wrong problem. Trajectories are still a long way from being perfected, especially as we do not use artificial turf wickets!

Posted by RandyOZ on (September 9, 2011, 1:48 GMT)

The big problem is we don't have a consistent DRS system for every test match because of India's reluctance and some nations not being able to afford it. 2 solutions: a.) ICC takes control and provides an identical system for every test match. b.) Snicko is introduced to aide decision making.

Posted by Ms.Cricket on (September 8, 2011, 6:57 GMT)

Sutherland has no credibility. He should step down.

Posted by dyson85 on (September 8, 2011, 0:03 GMT)

That instance with the Hughes lbw... I can't see why we have a problem with Hawkeye not detecting the ball spinning in that case. Most on field umpires seeing that delivery unfold would not detect that spin either (with the ball landing so close to the batsman, almost yorker length), and would therefore interpret the line for the purposes of lbw as being straight on with arm as if it were a full toss. Exactly what Hawkeye told us anyway!? I really don't see the problem. Asking technology to predict degrees of turn when the ball pitches SO CLOSE to the batsman seems risky if you ask me, if Hawkeye interprets situations like that as a full toss like an umpire would then I think system is right.

Posted by   on (September 7, 2011, 21:59 GMT)

@Francis Fabian: We have had only one week of trouble with DRS. And it's not even been every match. Do you remember that the point of using the DRS is to have more correct decisions - not 100%? Atleast with the DRS we get 98% of the stuff right while we got only 92% with the umpires. We will never achieve perfection in life but we just need the best possible system to be implemented and that is the DRS no doubt.

Posted by meursault on (September 7, 2011, 19:51 GMT)

The problem is not with the actual technology, but the rules regulating it's use. If the 3rd umpire had had the right to overrule an on-field decision on the basis of the replay not providing sufficient proof it was out, there wouldn't have been a problem. Unfirtunately, the rules said he couldn't overall on any other basis than HawkEye (which he clearly saw was wrong). Get the rules right, then worry about the technology itself.

Posted by gogoldengreens on (September 7, 2011, 18:57 GMT)

Have the ICC invest in their own cameras that are transported around series by series - so the same technology is used every where and provide uniformity - have their own camera operators who oversee the project so the set up is uniform as well

Posted by fazald on (September 7, 2011, 13:04 GMT)

I was shocked to see Phillip Hughes given out by the third umpire despite the hawk-eye indicating that the ball was heading towards the stumps whilst according to the naked eye it was quite obvious that it was spinning away from the stumps. There is no guarantee that the ball pitched just outside the batsman's leg stump would straighten & hit the stumps.As such the benefit of the doubt should have been in favour of the batsman.The issue regarding the hawk-eye has to be sorted out quickly before the DRS is considered a farce.

Posted by   on (September 7, 2011, 11:09 GMT)

"We continue to see little quirks in the system," Sutherland said in Melbourne on Wednesday. "Part of that is that there isn't a consistency of application across all international cricket matches.

Rubbish! What's that got to do with hawkeye being wrong (again). What does he want? Hawkeye to be consistently used at every game, consistently getting it wrong?

Even though he's a former FC cricketer, once again he shows little aptitude for being a cricket administrator (whose fault is Australia recent plight if not for his mismanagement?)

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Brydon CoverdaleClose
Brydon Coverdale Assistant Editor Possibly the only person to win a headline-writing award for a title with the word "heifers" in it, Brydon decided agricultural journalism wasn't for him when he took up his position with ESPNcricinfo in Melbourne. His cricketing career peaked with an unbeaten 85 in the seconds for a small team in rural Victoria on a day when they could not scrounge up 11 players and Brydon, tragically, ran out of partners to help him reach his century. He is also a compulsive TV game-show contestant and has appeared on half a dozen shows in Australia.
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