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A RESOUNDING SILENCE: The DRS in the India-Australia Test Series

March 24, 2013

Michael Roberts

In watching this televised series on and off Iwas struck by the care with which the TV commentators avoided any refrence to that dreaded term DRS. There was at least one horrible decision when Iwas watching –Pujara in the Third Test; and another understandable but yet poor decision in the Fourth Test (Wade). But what did we receive from the venerable analysts behind the media presentation: RESOUNDING SILENCE on this issue. Obviously a decison from up above one can surmise.

But does it not indicate complicity in the obstinate idiocy on this point in India and the position of imperial domination they have establsihed in the cricket world?  A RESOUNDING YES in my opinion. To be expected that answer — my question was rhetorical!

 **** On the technical and budgetary issues of the ball-tracking systems I present one oipinion and invite readercomments in case Haysman is not on the ball !

The truth about ball-tracking technology

Mike Haysman 10/07/2011, 22:02

MikeHaysman_TenSports_2_80It is time to debunk a myth or two about ball-tracking technology and get to the bottom of some truths. Much has been said recently about this equipment, and while some of it has been very informative, a fair amount has been way off the mark and, quite frankly, perplexing. At the moment there are only two companies that are employed to deliver these services: Hawk-Eye and Virtual Eye. Both of them do a splendid job and have enhanced cricket broadcasts enormously, therefore increasing the entertainment factor.

I do think it is important to pause here and reflect on the fact that the entertainment factor was the exact reason they were originally introduced. Precise decision-making was not part of the initial creative master plan. How things have changed with greater demand for authenticity.

Even though only a couple of companies currently supply these services, I have no doubt that the number of available operations will expand as greater acceptance is received in this field. Competition is always healthy and constantly results in improved quality, which is an essential development, as well as placing a spotlight on finances, thus lowering the principal investment.

As with most things in life, this all comes down to cost. To put it very bluntly, you get what you pay for. The current economic strain that is being experienced by all in the television industry is understandably forcing production houses and broadcasters to cut some budgetary corners to get the numbers to work. The cost of television rights for broadcasting the game in various regions continues to escalate and that in effect places all under enormous financial strain to deliver pictures.

The harsh reality is that the speed of the cameras that collect all the essential information to enable ball tracking systems, varies substantially based on cost. These cameras are the engine-room of the process. They range from capturing 25 frames per second at the low end to 250 frames per second at the top end. The faster the cameras, the more accurate the information obtained and the less chance of error.

Also, of course, the lower the budget, the cheaper the cameras used and the lower the number of frames that are obtained per second. In a perfect world where money was no object, all cameras used to record this essential data would be capable of capturing 250 frames per second. That would be the perfect plan to build the precise narrative, but in actuality it is often unrealistic.

Think of it this way: the more information one obtains to draw a graph, the more accurate it is. If less information is acquired, some manipulation and guesswork will be needed in order to complete the precise picture, and therefore inaccuracies will creep in.

Remember that conclusive evidence is the demand to ensure accurate umpiring decisions in cricket. And therein lies the dilemma. As long as we have a situation in which the ball tracking technology used varies in quality, for the purpose of either broadcast enhancement or Decision Review, confidence in this information technology will continue to be questioned.

The sooner the cost of the implementation of ball tracking technology is taken out of the broadcasters’ hands and is funded by an ICC-sourced global sponsor, the better off we will all be. That will enable standardisation in camera quality and quantity as high-end equipment is employed to ensure accuracy. It is the only way to attain uniformity in all aspects and importantly, gain acceptance from all stakeholders and custodians. We can then all progress as one with confidence. At the moment, based on economic constraints, the spectrum is too varied from one production to the next.

A NOTE: no one can tell me michael roberts that Indian cricket does not have the cash to set up the best DRS systems!

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