The Investec Ashes 2013

Hot Spot to continue for rest of Ashes series

Brydon Coverdale in Chester-le-Street

August 8, 2013

Comments: 39 | Text size: A | A

An image captured from the new Hot Spot camera
Curtin University engineer Dr Masood Khan has been conducting research into thermal infrared processing and has said that silicone tape has the capacity to disguise edges on Hot Spot © HotSpot

Hot Spot will be used for the remainder of the Investec Ashes series despite tests reportedly showing that silicone tape on bats can disguise faint edges. The ICC's general manager of cricket operations, Geoff Allardice, met with the management of both England and Australia in Durham on Wednesday to discuss concerns with the way DRS was operating and the outcome was that no changes would be made for the rest of this series.

Earlier on Wednesday, the ICC had dismissed a report aired on Channel Nine in Australia that it was investigating the possible use of silicone tape on bats by players from both teams during this series. However, Channel Nine reported on Thursday that Hot Spot inventor Warren Brennan had raised "serious concerns" with the ICC that if tape was used on bats, edges could fail to show up on the technology.

There have been a number of occasions during the Ashes when Hot Spot had failed to detect edges that have otherwise shown up on Snicko. Brennan will not comment publicly on the claims, but Curtin University engineer Dr Masood Khan has been conducting research into thermal infrared processing and has said that silicone tape has the capacity to disguise edges on Hot Spot.

"The chemical composition of silicone tape makes it work as an inhibitor for most radiation," Khan said. "Its physical characteristics also make it insensitive to minor physical impacts. Its chemical and physical features ensure an even conduction and dispersion of heat within its structure, meaning thermal changes caused by the impact of a ball as it hits the edge of a bat may remain unnoticed by a thermal infrared camera such as Hot Spot."

However, the ICC has said that after "very constructive" meetings between Allardice and the management of both teams, it was decided that Hot Spot would continue to be used.

"We acknowledge that the DRS has not performed as effectively during the past three Tests as it has in other series," Allardice said. "The purpose of my visit was to meet with the teams to listen to their feedback, and to identify potential improvements to DRS moving forward. It was very encouraging to hear both teams reiterate their support for the use of DRS. Some of the ideas that were suggested during the meetings could improve the system, and will be considered further by the ICC.

"Hot Spot is an advanced technology that helps us to detect edges. It is conclusive - when there is a mark we know the bat has hit the ball. In working with the operator over several years, we know that the majority of edges are detected by Hot Spot, but there are occasions when a fine edge isn't picked up.

"If there is no mark on Hot Spot, the TV umpire can use replays from different angles to see whether the ball has deflected off the bat, and he can listen to the sound from the stump-microphone to determine whether the batsman has edged the ball. Either deflection or sound can be used by the TV umpire to make his final judgment."

While the ICC did not make any mention of silicone tape in its statement, it said it was looking into a number of ways to improve DRS. One which was trialed during the Old Trafford Test involved the TV umpire accessing replays using a multi-channel monitor system with its own dedicated operator and recording device, rather than relying on the existing TV producers to cue up replays.

"The aim was to get more replay angles to the umpire, faster, so he will be able to make more accurate decisions and minimise delays to the game," Allardice said. "The feedback from this trial has been very positive, and we now need to consider how this technology could be most effectively used as part of the DRS system.

"An ongoing area of focus for the ICC is the training of our TV umpires. Several simulation activities have been conducted over the past 12 months and our elite panel training seminar next month will include several activities aimed at delivering more consistent interpretations of the images and sounds provided to the TV umpire."

Michael Clarke and Alastair Cook both reiterated their support for DRS on Wednesday and flatly dismissed suggestions their players could be using silicone tape, although they said there had clearly been issues during this series. Clarke said one such occurrence was when David Warner survived a review for a caught-behind decision at Old Trafford when he attempted a pull shot and Hot Spot showed no edge.

"I asked Davey when he came off the field if he hit that and he said he did," Clarke said. "I don't know the reason why it's not picking it up. I don't know the answer to that question ... I like DRS being there for the stinkers, the big inside edge, the blatant bat pads where you can see it's a big lbw or big caught behind, I like it for that."

Cook said he was keen for Hot Spot to remain part of the DRS, even though problems had shown up during the series.

"It still gives you more chance of getting the right decision and that's why we are using it in the first place," Cook said. "That's what we've found really strange, some clear nicks that haven't shown up on Hot Spot. It has been strange and we just can't quite work out why it's happening.

"But like all these things there are always big evolutions and hopefully the technology can get it right. At the end of the day we're just trying to get more decisions right so the umpires have less impact on the game. And you're talking about decisions but hundreds and five-fors rather than decisions made by the umpire or the third umpire.

One idea believed to have been discussed at Allardice's meetings that does not concern Hot Spot is the possibility of players not losing a review if an lbw appeal shows "umpire's call". As well as problems with Hot Spot, the series has featured a number of very tight lbw decisions and Shane Watson said this week he believed reviews should give the benefit of the doubt to the batsman rather than to the umpire's call.

Brydon Coverdale is an assistant editor at ESPNcricinfo. He tweets here

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Posted by Biso on (August 11, 2013, 6:33 GMT)

@BRUTALANALYST. ..the combination works well 95% of the time. Could you please explain what process was followed in arriving at this conclusion.

Posted by Biso on (August 11, 2013, 6:20 GMT)

@ Yorkshirepudding. You want the system to give a report on the significance level also while it provides a visual image of the prediction. Why not take it a bit further and have an interesting scene- the field umpire tells the batsman " I find you out at a confidence level of 90%. You must leave now." Pat comes his answer, " There is 10% doubt about me being out. Just let me have the benefit of it". LOL

Posted by willsrustynuts on (August 9, 2013, 13:12 GMT)

YorkshirePudding - I am with you. I would love to see the 'raw' data and/or another visualisation that shows the uncertainty better (we are not all technophobes and can understand the data without it having to be a cartoon).

More importantly, if we are to use Snicko or derivatives I would love to see how the sound and image are spliced together. I am always trying to match data that are recorded in time with data that are recorded in depth and it is NEVER easy nor infallible (despite billions of dollars of research).

My suspicion is that we have taken the decisions away from the umpires and given the responsibility to (not the 3rd umpire) some nerd sitting in a TV van around the back of the main pavilion.

Posted by YorkshirePudding on (August 9, 2013, 9:17 GMT)


It would be interesting to now how big the halo of predictions is for those in the 90th+ Percentile, and with a Percentile value on the screen to show what level of certainty has been given to the projected path selected.

Posted by willsrustynuts on (August 9, 2013, 8:35 GMT)

jmcilhinney: fair comment.

I am a scientist also (I build 3d computer models for a living) but I would rather keep the science for work and the sport for entertainment. My point is simple, the technology detracts from the game and brings cricket and the players into disrepute.

The tech has not delivered on the promise and what we have learned along the way is that it adds nothing to the enjoyment of the game either.

Anyone that loves cricket would surely see that as a bad thing?

Posted by DRS_Flawed_NeedsImprovement on (August 9, 2013, 7:36 GMT)

@brutalanalyst. Do yo know, how DRS works and what technologies constitutes DRS? Snicko is not part of the DRS! How could snicko works with hotspot when snicko is not a part of the DRS technology. So hotspot needs to more reliable than now.

Posted by jmcilhinney on (August 9, 2013, 5:47 GMT)

@willsrustynuts on (August 8, 2013, 20:56 GMT), I'm not quite sure what you're trying to say about me. I have no financial interest in DRS technologies; just an interest in as many correct decisions being made as possible in my favourite sport. I am a chemist, engineer and computer scientist. Believe me, I have no issue understanding the uncertainty inherent in predicting the path of a cricket ball after striking a batsman's pad based on its measured trajectory beforehand. I've never claimed that what we see on HawkEye is an absolute. That's why I have no issue with "umpire's call" on LBWs.

Posted by DRS_Flawed_NeedsImprovement on (August 9, 2013, 5:18 GMT)

so we could see more fun ah! Looking forward some good controversies too

Posted by disco_bob on (August 9, 2013, 0:26 GMT)

@jmcilhinney, it is true that Hawkeye cannot guarantee 100% but that is not necessary. It is better now that at first and it will approach near enough to 100% but more importantly it will be completely neutral and consistently so. The benefit of the doubt was necessary at one time only because of human inability to have a second look. I do not propose that hawkeye does away with on field umpires, only that it is used to make the same decision that a hypothetical perfect human umpire would have made had he been imbued with doubt free precision. A human might be perfectly sure that a ball will clip the wicket but he MUST then give not out only because he knows his limitation. Hawkeye does not suffer with this.

Therefore, keep using umpires to make decisions but of the decision is reviewed it is given out or not out depending on contact with ball and wicket, no matter how fine it's clipping. This also automatically does away with 'umpires call' and the unfair loss of an appeal.

Posted by willsrustynuts on (August 8, 2013, 20:56 GMT)

jmcilhinney: do you have a financial interest in DRS?

Anyone that thinks the Hawk Eye visualisation is showing the ball hitting the stumps simply does not understand how 3d ball tracking works. The 'half a ball hitting half the stumps scenario is a result of the 'noise' and the tolerances (uncertainty) in the data. The visualisation shows a ball and stumps in relative size but the truth is the tracker results in a halo of uncertainty and they try to show that by the 2 lines on the ball and stumps.

I know I have explained that badly but I am correct and you need to put your 3d data head on to understand it.

Posted by   on (August 8, 2013, 16:01 GMT)

Chris _Howard. The tape is on outside of the bat to avoid nicked edges. There is no tape on the inside of the bat edge, where the LBW nicked edges are normally.

Posted by YorkshirePudding on (August 8, 2013, 15:49 GMT)

@Chris_Howard, "Why would you put silicone tape on if it reduces the detection of edges?"

If you think aobut the logic, you only need apply tape to the Outside edge to have a good chance of avoind the edge being detected in a caught behind, 90-95% of catches behine are off the outside edge.

The inside edge doesnt need to be covered as you are unlikely to get caught of an inside edge behind, but the inside edge will deflect it onto the pad.

Posted by jmcilhinney on (August 8, 2013, 15:11 GMT)

@KM01 on (August 8, 2013, 14:36 GMT), proponents of DRS have been saying that DRS technology is not 100% accurate from the beginning. We are not saying "that's part of the game"; we are saying "that's the fundamental nature of technology". Name me anything in life that is 100% accurate or reliable? It was acceptable that umpires weren't 100% accurate when they were the only option. Now we have an option that can provide more correct decisions so we should use it. We should also strive to improve that system to get as close to 100% accuracy as possible. While the goal of 100% accuracy is something to strive for, we all know that it will never be achieved. At least we can get closer though, unlike if we stick with human umpires alone, who have reached their maximum potential already.

Posted by Chris_Howard on (August 8, 2013, 15:00 GMT)

Why would you put silicone tape on if it reduces the detection of edges?

Lessen your chances of a nicked catch being detected, but increase your risk of a wrong LBW?

It's not worth the risk, LBWs are hard enough to turnover with DRS as it is. You really, really need that nick showing up.

Posted by Hatter_Mad on (August 8, 2013, 14:57 GMT)

@ KM01 - "People who kept lambasting India for questioning the accuracy of the "technological miracles" of Hawkeye and DRS are wiping the egg off their collective faces" - no, not at all.

Nobody (apart from you) called these tools "technological miracles". They are useful aids to preventing howlers and they have prevented many howlers (even the threat of their use helps the game by encouraging honesty from the players - several English batsmen walked in the last Test, they knew they'd be out on review).

If you read the rules regarding these tools you will know that they don't always give definitive answers nor are they intended to (hence the "umpires call" clause). But they do improve decision making in Tests, the statistics prove this to be the case. It would be nice if the BCCI came onside and worked with the authorities.

Posted by jmcilhinney on (August 8, 2013, 14:53 GMT)

@Richard Sharp on (August 8, 2013, 14:20 GMT), because there's noone better. I think that we all need to accept that umpiring at Test level is a very hard thing to do. It's very easy for us to sit back in the comfort of our lounge rooms with our slo-mo replays and criticise but these umpires get a split second to make a decision and it's just not easy to do. If there was anybody better then they'd be doing it already. How many times have you thought an umpire got it wrong only to have their decision confirmed by replay, etc? It's a really hard job. I haven't umpired cricket but I've refereed basketball and then only at a low level and it was really hard. We want better but getting it is unlikely. That's why there's DRS.

Posted by harmske on (August 8, 2013, 14:49 GMT)


"Penalise umpires heavily for missing no-balls...It's one of the easiest parts of umpiring."

Have you ever umpired mate? not as easy as it sounds (particularly umpiring to bowlers who bowl wide of the crease)

Posted by jmcilhinney on (August 8, 2013, 14:48 GMT)

@disco_bob on (August 8, 2013, 14:21 GMT), but the fact that HawkEye says that the ball would have either hit or missed doesn't 100% guarantee that it would have hit or missed. That's the point of umpire's call. If you just go by what HawkEye says then there's really no need for on-field umpires at all. Maybe that's the way it will go eventually but if you believe that on-field umpires have a role then surely you have to give that role some weight. Otherwise, I guess they're just their to filter out the frivolous appeals and DRS is the real decision maker.

Posted by KM01 on (August 8, 2013, 14:36 GMT)

People who kept lambasting India for questioning the accuracy of the "technological miracles" of Hawkeye and DRS are wiping the egg off their collective faces. Now, they're saying "of course tech makes mistakes! It's a part of the game" . Wait, that wasn't good enough when used to defend umpires. Why is it good enough for a trumped up system that can be gamed??

Posted by TomPrice on (August 8, 2013, 14:28 GMT)

@Nick Yates: Aha! But if Pieteresen does a switch hit, the tape will be on the wrong edge.

Posted by jmcilhinney on (August 8, 2013, 14:27 GMT)

@Patrick_ on (August 8, 2013, 14:02 GMT), the third umpire can't be using Snicko because they don't get to see it at least until several minutes after they've relayed their findings. What they do use is the sound detected by the stump microphone, which Snicko is a visual representation of. As I've said before, I reckon that an on-field decision should be overturned if and only if both HotSpot and audio evidence contradict that decision. I've also read that the third umpire also looks for visible deviation but I honestly can't see that an edge thin enough not to be detected by HotSpot could cause visible deviation. In fact, sometimes I think what appears to be a deviation is actually an optical illusion, e.g. at first I thought there was a deviation when Khawaja was given out caught behind to Swann but could see that there wasn't after a couple more replays.

Posted by   on (August 8, 2013, 14:25 GMT)

and what is the reason for not adding snicko to the list ? that could be the second option before concluding to a decision if hotspot falied.

Posted by DPhilB on (August 8, 2013, 14:24 GMT)

How about these ideas? 1. For faint edges for catches benefit of the doubt in reviews should go to the batsman - if there's no obvious hot spot & no clear noise at just the right moment - not out! 2. Scrap the batting reviews & have all "out" decisions reviewed. Stick with current treatment of lbw lines, but apply idea 1 for edges. 3. Penalise umpires heavily for missing no-balls (wheteher there's an apeal or not). It's one of the easiest parts of umpiring. And penalise them for the number of "outs" overturned - stops them being lazy & giving almost everything out. 4. Leave the fielding reviews as they are. The current England protocol (captain, keeper & bowler need to agree) seems to work pretty well. There would also be fewer catches reviewed if idea 1 applied. 5. Stop playing India.

Posted by disco_bob on (August 8, 2013, 14:21 GMT)

This story is what is known as a furphy, or more likely a red herring. If you think about what hotspot is doing on an atomic level. It detects electromagnetic radiation caused by the movement of electrons that have been hit. On a front on impact you'd expect a lot of light, but from a feather, which could even just be the stitching brushing the side of the bat tangentially, it is inconceivable that there would be enough electrons moving to emit enough infrared radiation. I am guessing that the silicone is meant to make the edge more slippery but it really wouldn't make any difference. Infra red technology was never meant to be able to pick up a small amount of vibration from a feathered edge anyway.

If there was enough ball on bat to get a deflection then there would definitely be a hot spot mark so looking for a deflection with no hotspot is ridiculous. The real problem with DRS is not this distraction but the 'umpires call' nonsense. Ball either hits or misses. Period.

Posted by   on (August 8, 2013, 14:20 GMT)

"We acknowledge that the DRS has not performed as effectively during the past three Tests as it has in other series,"...but never accountability from umpires! DRS is not the problem. Incompetent umpiring is! How do these guys that keep on making howlers keep on getting gigs?

Posted by jmcilhinney on (August 8, 2013, 14:12 GMT)

@jmcilhinney on (August 8, 2013, 13:55 GMT), that comment was in reply to @willsrustynuts on (August 8, 2013, 13:32 GMT) .

Posted by Patrick_ on (August 8, 2013, 14:02 GMT)

The main issue with DRS right now is, no one knows how to use it for close calls. If there is no mark on hotspot but the umpires in the middle is certain that there is an edge, it is unfair to overrule that decision. Eventhough snicko is not part of DRS, umpires seem to use that for their decision. An unreliable hotspot does eventually makes dubious results. The use of technology should also be to avoid personal decisions of the umpire. Right now that is what is happening and hotspot becoming unreliable has not helped either.

Posted by subbu95 on (August 8, 2013, 14:00 GMT)

some people doesnt even know the rules snicko is not used in DRS, as it cannot be devoloped in the time limit

Posted by YorkshirePudding on (August 8, 2013, 13:58 GMT)

If umpires make 90% of all decisions corretly, and 80% of the refered decsions are corrected then you will get around 98% accuracy. The problem is when the reviews run out or the person using the technology makes an error that is when incorrect decisions become an issue.

I personally would allow each batsman one review per innings, and award the fielding side 10 reviews in total with it dropping by 1 for every wicket taken from its current.

So that a team that uses 5 reviews on an opener would find itself with only 4 left at the fall of the next wicket.

I would also remove the umpires call for LBW so that as long 50% or more of the ball is hitting the stump then it is out, not this 50% of the ball and 50% of the stump, you might even argue for a reduction to as little as 25% of the ball hitting the stump, otherwise its not out with the benefit going to the batsman as per stumpings, run outs etc.

Posted by jmcilhinney on (August 8, 2013, 13:55 GMT)

I think that that is a bit of an exaggeration. They play six hours of cricket a day. How much of that time is spent focusing on the technology? Also, a lot of the controversy is manufactured. There have been a small number of genuinely controversial DRS-related incidents in this series and a lot that have been labelled controversial just because there are people opposed to DRS. For instance, Brad Haddin's dismissal in game 1 should not involve any controversy at all. He was clearly out and has admitted that he hit the ball so that's an example of where DRS got it right when the on-field umpire got it wrong. Why should that be at all controversial? The fact that there had been one or two incidents previously and that it was the last wicket in a close game doesn't make that decision controversial.

Posted by willsrustynuts on (August 8, 2013, 13:32 GMT)

BRUTALANALYST: snicko is not part of DRS.

My issue is not with Hot Spot. It is the fact that the technology has become the main focus of the game. I just want to see some cricket please and not endless, inconclusive repeats in slow motion.

Posted by jmcilhinney on (August 8, 2013, 13:13 GMT)

Everyone should have known long before this series that HotSpot was never going to pick up every edge. I'm not sure why it's such a surprise. People conveniently ignore the fact that it has picked up several edges that otherwise escaped notice. The fact that some anti-DRS types tried to use Brad Haddin's dismissal in game 1 as evidence against DRS when it was actually evidence for it speaks volumes. To my mind, the ICC simply needs to make the rules regarding what is considered sufficient evidence to overturn an on-field decision regarding an edge. They can talk about deviation but I really can't see how an edge that doesn't generate enough heat to be picked up on HotSpot will create a visible deviation. As far as I'm concerned, if both HotSpot and stump mic (or real-time Snicko when available) contradict the on-field umpire then they overturn, otherwise they don't.

Posted by Condorito on (August 8, 2013, 13:07 GMT)

I can see the silicon tape working if applied only on the outside edge. Most nicks that would save a batsman from LBW come off the inside edge.

Posted by itismenithin on (August 8, 2013, 13:02 GMT)

I think irrespective of whether the review involves overturning umpires decision or not the batsman should be ruled out only if there is conclusive evidence. In many reviews where the onfield umpire has ruled the batsman out the third umpire doesn't overrule it because lack of strong evidence which is not fair to the batsman.

Posted by   on (August 8, 2013, 13:01 GMT)

Dear salazar555,

You only need the tape on the outer side of the bat, because mainly the edges to the slip and keeper are made the on the outer side edge of the bat.

In the case of LBW the nicks are mainly on the inner edge side of the bat, hence you do not need tape on the inner edge side of the bat.

Posted by   on (August 8, 2013, 13:00 GMT)

Salazar555: You would silicone tape the outside edge of your bat only, and not the inside edge for the LBW. But still ridiculous.

Posted by salazar555 on (August 8, 2013, 12:40 GMT)

Why would anyone use silicone even if it worked? There might be a time when you are given out LBW when you have hit it and you would need the hot spot mark to show up.

Posted by ramli on (August 8, 2013, 12:37 GMT)

Another farce enacted after all the drama by the players and coaches staged with respect to DRS, especially hot-spot in Ashes series ... this move is just to placate the ICC in front of growing criticism on the ill-prepared not-yet ready DRS

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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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