The Ashes 2013-14 November 3, 2013

Hot Spot may earn Ashes reprieve


Hot Spot could be set for a late entry into the upcoming Ashes series alongside a trial for an enhanced DRS, including Real Time Snicko technology, having previously been jettisoned after talks between its inventor, Warren Brennan, and Cricket Australia broke down over the cost of the system.

Now, however, the two parties are reported by the Sydney Morning Herald to have reopened negotiations less than three weeks before the Ashes resumes with the introduction of Real Time Snicko, which is also part of Brennan's company BBG Sports, being pushed forward for full-scale use. The enhancement was trialled behind the scenes during the previous Ashes in England, but was not part of the available DRS process which was the centre of much controversy during the series.

Most of that stemmed from the reliability of Hot Spot which appeared to not detect a number of thin edges with the third umpires using evidence from the stump microphones instead. Under the current DRS protocols, Snicko cannot be used due to the time it takes to match up the audio with the pictures but the Real Time version makes this an almost instant process.

Earlier this year Brennan said: "I am hopeful that it would improve fine-edge detection dramatically. On most occasions, you are going to have the Real Time Snicko and Hot Spot agreeing with another. So the third umpire will now have two points of reference. There can be more consistency that way."

Although confidence in the DRS was dented during the Ashes series in England - which also sparked the controversy over taped bat edges which angered the England team - both sides remain two of the strongest supporters of using the review system and the boards are understood to be open to the upgraded version.

David Saker, England's bowling coach, still believes more correct decisions are made. "Obviously over the English summer, a few things went a little wrong with it,'' he said. "But the majority of the time, they've got more decisions right than wrong - so I'm a big supporter of it.'

"I think if we can get as many correct decisions as possible, it's better for the game - not just for England. The decision obviously will be made by Cricket Australia, but I'd definitely welcome it for sure.''

Matt Prior, the England wicketkeeper, supports the DRS if the technology is reliable. "I'm a fan of the review system and technology. At the end of the day there is a huge amount on each decision and you have to get the right decision," he said shortly before the tour started. "If Hotspot is inaccurate it cannot be used and we have to find another way of getting to the right decision. As long as the right decision is made, that is all the players want."

An enhanced DRS - which will require approval from the ICC - would bring the role of the third umpire back to the fore. It has been suggested that because of the key position third umpires now hold in the decision-making process, away from the traditional line decisions of run outs and stumpings, that extra training is required and potentially a panel of specialist TV officials to support on-field umpires.

The back-to-back Ashes have put pressure on the ICC's elite panel of umpires because the majority come from England and Australia which makes them ineligible to stand in the 10 Tests which began in July and run until early January in Sydney.

Only four umpires - Marais Erasmus, Aleem Dar, Tony Hill and Kumar Dharmasena - are available for the Test matches and are rotated through the on-field and TV roles. There have been talks about selecting from the international panel of umpires, the level below the elite, to ease the burden and Billy Bowden, who was demoted earlier this year, has been the name mentioned.

Andrew McGlashan is an assistant editor at ESPNcricinfo

Comments have now been closed for this article

  • Barney on November 5, 2013, 16:51 GMT

    What ever happened to ultra slow motion ? I thought that was really godd at detecting snicks.

  • abhijeet on November 5, 2013, 5:40 GMT

    @ ReverseSweepIndia. You are the one of the few sane voices in an asylum. Hence, nobody will listen to you. I have long been of opinion that DRS and hotspot/hawkeye/snicko don't have to be one and the same thing. We can remove almost all howlers by a simple TV replay.

    A technology which costs $5000 a day but is to be used only for howlers and not for marginal decisions can only be advocated by people who are not the ones having to spend that money. If not, I am starting a business of selling dirt at 100$ per kg with potential customers being the people who want hotspot at 5000$ a day. I think I will have a good shot at becoming a billionaire in next 5 years :)

  • Dinesh on November 5, 2013, 4:59 GMT

    Neutral umpires were used to counter partial umpiring which used to happen in all countries, all the time, from all the umpires save a few like Bird and Shepherd and few more. Was more rampant in subcontinent, but was there in other countries. Neutral umpires brought an end to partial umpiring and what we left was Bad umpiring. Elite panel was to counter bad umpiring. And this elite panel as @jmcilhinney said, take pride in their job. So they should be selected based on normal/regular criteria and not based on nationality. Umpires have too much pressure, they have to concentrate hard for 225 overs (5daysX90 one bowling end) and even in rest of 225 overs they do not have much respite.

  • Dinesh on November 5, 2013, 4:45 GMT

    Why not scrap this whole hotspot, snicko & what else. Simple video replay remove the howlers and thats it. That can be afforded in a Zim-NZ match as it can be in Eng-Aus match. And being an Indian, whatever BCCI says, most of us Indians want technology to be used & assist in decision making. The high costs then can be diverted to game development in Ire & Afgans.

  • Safdar on November 4, 2013, 22:19 GMT

    The last Ashes series has shown us how the on-field umpires are just guessing half the time. We desperately need some technology that everyone can sign up to like in tennis. The ball actually deforms in tennis but the players all accept it. It's the same in cricket. It doesn't have to be 100% as long as all the players and spectators see that it is fair and accept it.

  • Prateek on November 4, 2013, 17:11 GMT

    "As long as the right decision is made, that is all the players want." Prior is absolutely wrong there. Players don't want right decisions; players want decisions in their favor, right or wrong. If players wanted right decision than a batsman who has nicked but given not out will review it or a fielding team that's claiming a catch on the bounce will review it after their appeal for out is upheld. Let's be honest about what we want, shall we.

  • Justin on November 4, 2013, 13:54 GMT

    Good - now we just need to tighten up on how the technology is used and interpreted by the umpires. Get rid of 'umpires call' - if a suite of technology cannot determine if a batsman is out then they should get the benefit. It really does need to be black and white i.e. there is evidence that the person is out or there is no evidence that they are out.

  • Sriram on November 4, 2013, 10:47 GMT

    With so little umpires outside Aus, Eng and given that Kumar and Tony are the worst among the elite panel, and with so much technology and TV, why not have 1 local umpire inlcuded. Poor Kumar and Tony, they will once again be subjected to scrutiny and have to survive that!!

  • Nicholas on November 4, 2013, 9:32 GMT

    @jmcilhinney: Yes definitely agree - I don't mind Snicko being used as part of a suite of technology, and indeed some fine edges don't leave a mark on Hot Spot (what with all the silicone tape and whatnot... *coughs*) - but if Snicko is going to be used alone for any (or even all potentially) decisions, then there must be enough clear real-time camera footage to go with the play, including footage of the wicket-keeper's movements if he's up close to the stumps. Despite being a bowler, I do feel sorry for batsmen getting their marching orders after simply brushing pad with bat, and there isn't enough sufficient camera footage to show daylight between bat and ball.

  • shashwata on November 4, 2013, 7:27 GMT

    So after all the hullabaloo this summer, we may still have the Hot Spot being used in the Ashes ! I personally would be glad if this were to happen. I feel thing were blown way out of proportion re the poor decisions as a result of a few inaccuracies on Hot spot's part. And I am not saying this merely because my team won the series 3-0 at the end of it all. No sort of technology or machine is a 100% efficient and gives teething troubles, and that is one of the unsaid laws of the universe. So Hotspot is no different in being that way.

    And anyways Hotspot does improve decision making even if it is by a small percentage. Something IS better than nothing. So even if there were a few issues with its working recently, it doesn't imply that we should do away with it altogether. If one apple is rotten from a bunch that we purchased, it doesn't imply that the others will be rotten too or that we give up eating apples all together. Because at the end of it apples do help our body with iron.

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