Why technology won’t solve cricket’s low catch problem: Quite expensive, limited resources, lack of foolproof evidence.

“I don’t really know the answer, but there has to be a way to try and improve it somehow,” Australia captain Pat Cummins said. At this point, the third referee used camera angles during the game to adjudicate low catches. There were multiple near misses upstairs in the recently concluded Australia-South Africa series, followed by decisions made without sufficient evidence. The gray area indicates whether the fielder catches the ball cleanly and whether the ball has made any contact with the ground.

Cummins mused after the Sydney test, “I think it’s going to be really hard to get the batsman out as it stands. If there’s any doubt of any good, let it be. I think there are a couple of camera angles that really slow it down Given the speed, it’s hard not to spot a doubt somewhere.”

So, is there scope for more and better camera angles to come into play? Could the technology get another upgrade to help referees better spot if there is a gap between the fingers when catching the ball? 3D camera? Ball sensor technology? Director of live cricket and broadcast consultant Hemant Buch sees it differently.

“Cricket runs on a lot of technology. The technology is quite expensive and not every board can afford the investment. That’s why you’ll find different camera specs in different countries. Some productions have as many cameras as others three times that,” he told The Indian Express.

Buch, who has worked in the cricket broadcasting industry for more than 20 years, further elaborates on the financial challenges faced by broadcasters and the cricket board due to technological advancements.

“Traditionally, the cost of the technology (also for the decision-making of the ICC referees) has been borne by the broadcasters. Sometimes this has been borne by the sponsors, sometimes by the broadcasters to improve the quality of the production. But again, very often Few broadcasters or boards make money from enhancements, so it’s hard to do across the cricket world. Unless, of course, someone like the ICC is covering the cost through a generic sponsor.”

According to Buch, there are a few essential questions to ask before considering investing in any cricket technology to address the above issues.

Does such technology exist? Is it safe? If so, is it worth spending a fixed amount of money for a rarely contested decision?

Let’s take ball sensor technology as an example. In March 2020, leading ball manufacturing company Kookaburra launched the ‘SmartBall’, which embeds a microchip that transmits real-time data on whether the bat clearly hits the ball, whether the ball hits the grass on a low catch, And improved tracking of the racket. DRS.

Simon Harmer brought the debate around the soft signal to the fore again when he caught Marnus Labuschagne’s catch in the Sydney Test. (screenshot/cricket.com.au)

“If it comes down to one company making balls with sensors (as suggested), what about other ball manufacturers? What happens when the ball deforms or the seam breaks and you have to replace the ball? How do you find out So many old balls with sensors?”

Buch further added, “So, how does it calculate the net catch? If a blade of grass hits a ball between your fingers, is it a drop? Is it a trap? Or does it need to land completely?” Creates more problems than it solves. “

What about 3D cameras? The referee will definitely have a better understanding of the incident.

“3D cameras certainly help, but where is the 3D feed? Would we pay that much for a TV referee to get a 3D view? Because none of us will be watching coverage in 3D at home. Isn’t that overkill? Is the cost justified ?”

Buch also added that the variable financial bracket of the cricket board needs to be considered while considering technological advancements. “Remember, Test cricket isn’t just being done in 4 or 5 countries. Think how all the full membership justifies the costs,” added Buch.

hard and soft signal problem

Before the Australia-South Africa series, there was Pakistan-UK. Saud Shakeel’s dismissal on the fifth day (94 for 213) was seen as a crucial moment in the second Test. Pakistan needed 45 to win and with four wickets in hand, Shakeel looked in good position to help tie the series 1-1. Before he makes a short shot along the side of the leg. Goalkeeper Ollie Pope dives low to the left to receive the ball. or is it?

The live referee rose to third referee Joel Wilson. Aleem Dar thinks the soft signal is over. Replays showed that Pope’s fingers were not completely under the ball, and the ball appeared to be close to the ground. “It looked like the glove was under it…but I can’t really tell,” admitted Joel Wilson, who was looking for a better frame to rule out the possibility of the ball being stranded. For lack of the same, he’d declare the shoot clean.

Saud wears a pass from Mark Wood in the leg side at the 94 and Ollie Pope dives to his right to catch the ball. On-field umpire Aleem Dar ruled that the batsman fell behind on his soft signal before submitting the decision to TV umpire Joel Wilson. (Screenshot/Twitter)

The backlash over why soft signals spark key calls in the modern game, despite the technology, makes an equally convincing case in favor of batsmen, if not more.

Clause 2.2.2 of Appendix D of the ICC World Test Championships Conditions of Competition since last revision in November 2022 mentions, “If the third referee considers that the replay evidence is inconclusive, the on-field decision communicated at the start of the consultation Procedures shall be established.”

While soft signals have always been a thorn in cricket’s low catch adjudication, there have been some major tournaments that have removed the same. In March 2021, Virat Kohli will ask: “Why can’t there be a referee call that I don’t know about?” At the end of that month, the IPL management committee opted to abandon the practice of on-field referees, issuing a third referee before the start of the league’s 14th season. soft signal.

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