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  • Author Edward Craig
  • Published June 12, 2013

The tech behind the cricket

England is hosting one of the biggest tournaments in world cricket – the ICC Champions Trophy. Did you realise cricket is one of the most forward thinking sports when it comes to use of technology? Here’s a quick guide to the gadgets…

 

The home of Hawk-Eye
Wimbledon has its instant replays on the big screen that add to the drama; football believes it has finally solved its goal-line dispute problem using this technology but it all started in cricket – Hawk-Eye. Dr Paul Hawkins – a cricket fanatic – developed a system of tracing and predicting a ball’s path, working out where it would have gone had it not struck pad or bat. First used on TV in 2001, this gave viewers a chance to decide whether LBW decisions were accurate or not and – a number of years later – umpires adopted it to help make better decisions. Now, everyone in cricket loves it – except India, for complicated, political reasons…

 

Hidden secrets: super-slow motion
Back in the mid-1990s, a young Australian called Shane Warne reinvigorated a dying art – legspin bowling. This most mysterious and difficult discipline involves deceiving batsmen so they don’t know which way the ball will spin when it lands – and Warne was the master. Super-slow motion footage of his hands revealed his techniques and secrets – how he managed to get so much spin and variation. Not that it did the batsmen any good: it just played with their minds more. It was mesmeric, revealing television and sport. Super-slow motion has since got more super and more slow and is essential to every emotional Olympic montage or Sky TV ad.

 

Speed fun
Measuring how quick – or how slow – bowlers in cricket bowl has been around almost since the game developed 150 years ago, with various techniques employed producing a variety of results – none desperately trust worthy. But at the beginning of the 1990s, speed guns emerged at cricket grounds, displaying what appeared to be a definitive speed, and giving the crowd something to gasp at. Former England quick bowler Darren Gough admitted “bowling for the speed gun” at times, at the expense of accuracy or purpose – and there have been regular accusations of speed-gun bias: the Australian bowlers always seemed a bit quicker playing at home than away…

 

The amazing Spidercam
Three years ago in the semi-finals of the Indian Premier League, viewers ended up in the heart of the action – or flying 10 feet above it. Spidercam – a camera suspended on wires across the playing area and operated remotely – produced astonishing images from astonishing angles. Suddenly the viewer could be not only closely focused on the action but actually flying within it – in real time. Spidercam has already been used to great effect in this year’s ICC Champions Trophy. And he’s been hit a few times too.

 

Cheating the cheats: Snicko and Hotspot
Whatever its reputation, cricket is a dirty sport. Batsmen often refuse to admit they’ve hit the ball, waiting for an umpire to make a decision and send them on their way. Snicko and Hotspot emerged to counter such dastardly tactics. Snicko uses sound to record the noise of ball-clipping-bat; Hotspot uses heat-sensitive cameras to highlight the actual points of contact. So the cricketers fought back, using tactics such as clicking fingers as the ball past the bat to set off Snicko or rubbing Vaseline into their bats to negate the effects of Hotspot. Even now, both technologies can be viewed with suspicion.

 

Edward Craig is the former deputy editor of The Wisden Cricketer magazine

 

LG is a global partner of the ICC and sponsor of the ICC Champions Trophy

 

For the chance to win tickets for the semis and final of the ICC Champions Trophy, retweet…

 

Competition closes midnight Monday June 17. See competitions terms and conditions here.

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