Changing the Game: How Technology Has Influenced Cricket

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Cricket is a highly traditional sport; thus, alterations to the rules and arena are rarely made hastily. Sports like football and horse racing have adopted modern technology in a variety of ways. Thankfully, cricket has not discounted the potential of utilising technology to improve the game.

Many of the most recent technical innovations are now part of cricket, including judgement reviews for catches, LBW, no balls, and run-outs. The International Cricket Council (ICC) has generally been fairly careful about adopting changes to the game that may affect the players and spectators. Yet, there have been certain instances where technology has been rejected, such as using aluminium cricket bats.

The technical advancements now used in cricket or being considered for inclusion are detailed below.

The Decision Review System (DRS)

Cricket has followed other international sports by implementing an umpire referral system in some international contests, known as the Decision Review System (DRS). An experiment with such a system began in 2008. (in a Test series between Sri Lanka and India). Although the way it functions in practice may vary over time, this was how it operated when it was initially introduced.

Players can appeal on-field umpires’ rulings and forward them to the TV official. Each team in the Test has the option to appeal any judgments, but they are only allowed a maximum of three unsuccessful appeals each inning. Only those batsmen or the captain of the fielding side who were the subject of the umpire’s initial ruling are eligible to appeal. To do so, they must make a “T” sign with both forearms up to shoulder level. The third umpire gathers data and makes decisions using slow-motion replays shot from various perspectives and the hot spot technology.

The strain is on the umpires, but it sounds fantastic to the players and viewers at home. In practice, the procedure frequently takes too long and can interfere with gameplay. Near the end of an inning, when teams still have challenges to make, players often make pointless challenges in the hopes of having a decision overturned. Although the referral system is a considerable improvement for cricket, specific issues still need to be resolved.

Technology for TV

Front-foot Technology

The third umpire keeps track of the bowlers’ landing foot after each ball and notifies their on-field counterparts if the delivery was lawful. They previously did this after each wicket, but the technology is now rapid and accurate enough to do it for every ball.

Snickometer

A very sensitive microphone called the Snickometer is housed inside one of the stumps and can detect the sound made when the ball nicks the bat. This technology is simply used to display whether the ball hit the bat and provide television viewers with more information. Although a Real-time Snickometer is being created to complement Hot Spot technology, umpires currently do not benefit from hearing “snicko.”

Hawkeye

Hawkeye is a computer programme that was initially used to display a cricket ball’s trajectory in 2001. For cricket commentators all over the world, it is a frequently used and necessary instrument for confirming the umpires’ rulings. It is utilised as a component of the DRS to decide LBW cases. 

Ball Spin RPM

Beginning with the 2013 Ashes series TV coverage, Sky Sports was able to display a Ball Spin RPM (revolutions per minute) counter, indicating how quickly the ball was spinning after release. It is unclear how this is measured, although it would require a high-speed camera that was trained on the ball and potentially utilised Hawkeye system photos.

Hot Spot

Hot Spot technology is mostly used to check whether the bat made contact with the ball, especially when there is a little nick. If there is contact, a change to that part of the bat indicates the minimal amount of heat produced. Hot Spot uses two infrared cameras, and they are placed at either end of the ground. When a ball strikes a pad, a bat hits a ball, a ball strikes the ground, or a ball strikes a glove, these cameras detect and quantify the heat produced by friction. A succession of negative black-and-white frames is created into a computer using a subtraction technique to pinpoint the exact location of the ball’s point of impact. 

The Third Official

In addition to the two on-field umpires, a third umpire has been used in international cricket matches. In order to assist the central umpires, the third umpire, who is similarly qualified, sits off the ground and has access to TV replays of specific events (such as contested catches and boundaries). The two umpires are in wireless communication when they are on the field. The third umpire is also tasked with making run-out decisions, which he does without consulting the two central umpires and instead employs video replay.

More Recent Technology

Instantaneous no-ball calls

Instantly inform the umpires whether a front foot no ball has been made. Implementing technology that, like in tennis for let or fault calls, beeps at the umpire if the bowler crosses the popping crease would be simple. This will allow the umpire to concentrate on what the batsman and fielders are doing instead of being distracted and gazing down while the bowler delivers the ball.

Bowling Sensors

While it is challenging to keep track of every bowling delivery throughout a game for bent arm tossing, new technology is being developed that might be useful for this. Before, any player accused of using an illegal bowling motion had to submit their motion to a 3D biomechanical study in a lab. To check a bowler’s action during games to detect if they are bending their arm too much during the bowling delivery, new technology utilising inertial sensors is being developed. Inertial sensors, some video games and mobile phones employ similar technology. In addition to being lightweight, affordable, and wearable on the bowler’s arm, these sensors will not interfere with bowling performance while enabling the assessment of information regarding the bowling action in close to real-time in both match and training contexts.

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