If there is one thing in cricket that has been the subject of furious debate ever since its introduction, it has been the introduction of computer-based tech in cricket. As technological advancements gradually progressed, the viewing experience for fans was understandably enhanced. And one of the biggest reasons to bring in technology was to reduce the chances of human error from negatively impacting the outcomes of games.
But has the journey been smooth sailing? Certainly not. The issue of ‘umpire’s call’ in DRS continues to draw mixed opinions, even today. Is the stump mic complicating on-field banter? Are umpires relying too much on technology to be the decision solver?
We spoke to former India cricketer Vijay Bharadwaj and umpire CK Nandan and asked them to weigh in on this issue.
The stakes are high to get it right
Nandan believes the introduction of technology is a step in the right direction for all stakeholders. From a fan’s perspective, he believes DRS adds to the drama, the watching of replays builds the anticipation and adds an element of thrill. But where it has been especially useful, he believes, is in allowing umpires to arrive at almost 100% accurate decisions. “We all want the right decision,” he says, “and the stakes are high”. The use of technology allows that. While initially there may have been resistance, all it took was a matter of getting used to it.
The biggest advantage of technology in cricket has been to refer the line decisions to the third umpires. There are no disputes now on the key facts, with digital data to support.
Off the field, Nandan believes video analysis has been a great tool for players to get closer to their own game. “Seeing is believing,” he says, and believes this has helped players understand a lot more about their own individual performances.
Finding the gaps in the process
From a player’s perspective Bharadwaj believes that technology has reduced the chances of dissatisfaction that players might have had in case the on-field umpire’s decision was wrong. “Whether it is Hot Spot, Snicko or Ball Tracking, they have all helped immensely,” he opines.
Video technology, he says, has helped players understand and dissect their techniques, helping them to improve their games and find and iron out any chinks.
The increase in data, thanks to the technology available, has helped teams strategise better as well, says Bharadwaj. Whether it is data related to batting, bowling or fielding, these hard numbers, garnered with the help of technology have helped, especially the coaches. Not only have 3D graphics and animations added a fun element to the viewing experience of the game, they are a useful technological tool in understanding various aspects of player performance.
Smart sensors, analytics, etc. are now an important tool for coaches and academies to track their player’s performance. Whether it is batting, bowling or fielding, technology has helped provide visual and data-driven insights into every aspect. Technology can now be used to provide information on bowling speeds, lengths; wearables provide more detailed player data that can help with injury management.
Bharadwaj and Nandan believe the addition of sensor-based innovations like Smart Cricket bat technologies will provide an interesting perspective on the game – helps the stakeholders to analyse parameters that are needed in order to execute the perfect shot. From where the bat is meeting the ball to the impact assessment – all this data garnered with the help of technology can help enhance the batsman’s talent and prowess.