England v Australia, 4th Investec Test, Durham August 10, 2013

Remove protective coating for Hot Spot - Brennan


Hot Spot inventor Warren Brennan has called for protective coatings to be removed from bats in order to achieve the most accurate thermal imaging results. Brennan has broken his silence on the Hot Spot debate of the past week, releasing a statement that did not mention silicone-tape but said the thermal signatures of cricket bats were "unquestionably" affected by their protective coatings.

A number of edges have failed to show up on Hot Spot during the ongoing Ashes series, leaving the players uncertain of whether to use reviews or not. Following the Old Trafford Test, Channel Nine in Australia reported the ICC was investigating the possibility that players were using silicone-tape on the edges of their bats during this series in a deliberate effort to fool Hot Spot.

However, the ICC dismissed those claims and the captains of both sides rubbished the idea that any of their players would set out to cheat the DRS. Brennan, who had initially declined to comment on the debate, has now released a statement in which he said that his company, BBG Sports, had tested a range of the latest cricket bats over the past week and found that their protective coating can reduce the likelihood of edges showing up on Hot Spot.

"Following the Manchester Test match earlier this week, BBG Sports analysed contentious Hot Spot decisions from the Ashes series and decided to purchase several of the latest generation of cricket bats to undertake thorough testing," the BBG statement said. "BBG Sports observed that the majority of bats had some form of protective coating that would wrap around onto the edges of the bat.

"Strangely enough, this protective coating would cover only half of the edge of the bat and not the entire edge of the bat. BBG Sports believed this could cause the front edge of the bat to have a different thermal signature than the back edge of the bat. BBG Sports' own internal testing over the past three days utilizing the latest generation of cricket bats has, in their opinion, provided conclusive findings.

"The type and thickness of the protective coating unquestionably affects the thermal signature of the Hot Spot system. In layman's terms, the protective coating definitely diminishes Hot Spot marks. BBG Sports advised the ICC earlier this week on these initial findings and has committed to further testing over the coming weeks.

"BBG Sports believes that in order to achieve optimum Hot Spot results the removal of protective coating from bats and edges needs to occur. This will allow for the best thermal signatures between cricket balls and natural timber cricket bats."

However, the ICC is unlikely to enforce any such rules, given that batsmen have been using protective coatings on their bats for many years. Earlier this week, Australia's captain Michael Clarke said that every bat he had owned since he was about 12 had featured a protective layer in order to increase the bat's longevity, and most bats these days incorporate some form of such protection.

The ICC's umpires manager, Simon Taufel, also said earlier this week that for the past three years, Test umpires have carried out random bat inspections roughly 12 times per Test and not once has a batsman been found to have used silicone-tape in an attempt to trick the technology. Taufel said if such tape was found on the edges, a player would be liable for a breach of the Code of Conduct.

Hot Spot was again the centre of attention on the first morning of the Chester-le-Street Test, but this time the system worked as intended. Joe Root was adjudged not out by the on-field umpire Tony Hill but after Australia asked for a review, a faint edge showed up on Hot Spot and the decision was overturned.

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

Comments have now been closed for this article

  • Pan on August 14, 2013, 9:00 GMT

    Although this doesn't sound good, the fact that the technology isn't perfect shouldn't be used as an excuse not to use DRS:-

    a) Even if there was no technology used, except slow-mo-replays, it would still be worth having just to improve the number of correct decisions.

    b) The ICC have to allow the umpires a little more leeway than to simply follow the technology. Proper conversation between on-field & TV umpires, instead of protocol, "Did hotspot show anything? No" would help get decision right, even when technology doesn't do it's job, would help.

    c) Deliberately putting stickers on bats to prevent hotspot showing nicks would be quite stupid - imagine being given out LBW to a ball you've nicked the leather off, you review it, and are given out, based on nothing showing on hotspot?!

  • Balaji on August 12, 2013, 9:55 GMT

    DRicherby that was great. But just think, each time you have to go in for a new bat and a new ball. Just think, how much fun the umpire will have changing the ball each time there is an edge (depending on how old the ball is). The fielders will have to wear fire-proof gloves to protect their hand. What about the bowler, if the ball flies back to him, he should keep a set of gloves tucked in his pant; better still give them to the umpire for safekeeping, and the umpire should allow for bump catches for the bowlers considering the time factor. Revolution in the game!!!!

  • Satish Chandar on August 12, 2013, 7:55 GMT

    @DRicherby : Epic.. Really epic one mate.. Hope the keepers and fielders are allowed to wear protective gloves to catch the fire balls.. Else, no point in making things simpler for DRS if the ball is not caught after all.. You get the "Nayee soch" award and deserve to be in DRS panel..

  • Varun on August 12, 2013, 6:50 GMT

    @DRicherby: haha, that's a very interesting suggestion. But if the batsman top edges the ball to third man or even the keeper, won't they get injured? It would be red hot!

  • Balaji on August 12, 2013, 6:48 GMT

    Bats were being taped long before Hot Spot was even conceived. For Brennan to suggest that this must now be stopped just because Hot Spot is now being called into question is preposterous. Already, one of the bat makers has gone on the offensive against Brennan. This shows sloppiness on both the part of the technology supplier and the ICC.

  • vinay on August 12, 2013, 6:12 GMT

    @DRicherby : Sensational stuff!! Will make for great viewing..but feel bad for the batsmen though..losing a bat every time they nick one..

  • indian cric on August 12, 2013, 5:08 GMT

    DRS is getting murkier by the day and more inefficiencies of the technology come out to the open. Snicko is not reliable, hotspot is not reliable and everyone doubts the hawk eye's ball tracking abilities. So what is reliable and 100% accurate in DRS then? Dalmiya is asking the right questions.

  • Satish Chandar on August 12, 2013, 1:57 GMT

    What if shine of ball causes the issue> Will you remove the shine of the balls? Come on makers.. Pacve some other means to do it.. Stickers in the bats are used for long long time in cricket.. If you guys think that the batsmen use the additional stickers in order to cheat technology, be open and say it loud in public.. Else, work on your product.. As some asks below, what sort of bats are used to test the hotspot? Was it really tested before it is actually started to use in the games at all? This really puts ICC in a bad spot.. How reliable will be a untested technology? Come on ICC.. As i always saym instead of vying for a inconsistent incompetent expensive technology, go for lot cheaper options.. As of now, most of the decisions referred go as "On field decision stays".. Why do we need to spend such huge cost for this? Go with super slowmo and pitch map.. that is good enough option to eliminate howlers..

  • Dummy4 on August 11, 2013, 14:45 GMT

    Whether or not hotspots always show up is not the issue. The fact that in SOME instances it will detect a dismissal/non-dismissal means that it is a necessary tool to be utilized. Just think of it as an alternative camera angle. I think the distinction has occurred via some players using a coating on their bats and others choosing not to. Batsmen have long oiled, taped and coated their bats in cricket, so outlawing it seems unreasonable on the basis of a technology which in due fairness only was introduced to dispute the decisions of umpires. Again' many decades of "purely" officiated series rarely left a bad taste in the mouth of a cricket fan, EVEN when your team had suffered at the wrong end of a "poor decision." it was something to simply to "suck-up" and move on from. The whole system of DRS undermines the umpires in general, effectively vilifying them and having a resultant effect of making them question their own judgement.

  • David on August 11, 2013, 12:21 GMT

    Wait, I have the solution! Introduce a mandatory coating of powdered glass and red phosphorus for the edges of bats, which must be the top layer of coating. Impregnate the ball with potassium chlorate and sulphur. Now, if the batsman gets an edge, the ball will catch fire, exactly like striking a match -- a real hot spot! This will eliminate all doubt about whether a batsman hit the ball, making cricket a fairer sport and taking much of the stress out of umpiring. It will also add excitement and spectacle for the crowd and the slow-motion replays on the TV will look *awesome*.

    If anyone from the ICC is reading, please get in touch. I will license this technology to you for a very reasonable fee.

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