Rewind 40 years ago when television was not much heard of. “The batsman walks down middle of the pitch, does a bit of gardening and walks back to his crease…” Those were the days of radio commentary wherein knowledgeable commentators created visual images for the listeners, both connoisseurs and casual, of the game.
Fast forward to present, when television along with gadgets such as ‘Spidy Cam’, ‘Hot Spot’, ‘Stump Camera’, ‘Snicko Meter’, ‘Hawkeye’, ‘Umpire’s Counter’ and ‘Umpire Cam’ have invaded every aspect of the game. “Oh! What lovely earrings are worn by women in colourful costumes…!!!” That is today’s commentary from highly reputed cricketers turned commentators. Or a player with a microphone on during play saying, “Yeah, there is a bit of dew [due to floodlights]…”
With the advent of TV and associated gadgets, cricket has indeed undergone a paradigm shift to more of a carnival with spectators, both connoisseurs and casual, being offered various incentives for predicting not only results but also dream combinations through online platforms, largely mobile smartphones. A lucky spectator is allowed to walk down with the captains, match referee and on ground commentator to witness the toss. Are we trespassing the sanctity of the 22 yards? Can anybody dare to answer!!!
But the moot point is in this process of “modernisation” of cricket with technology, is the game losing its original charisma as a “Gentleman’s Game”! The genesis for this paradigm shift in the very character of the game can perhaps be attributed to Australian rebel organiser Kerry Packer, who innovated the concept of coloured clothing and white balls for the one-day 50 overs game.
The game today has gone beyond the Packer era to embrace technology to bring every nuance of the game to the doorsteps of television audiences converting viewers as mere couch potatoes, especially with a lot of online services delivering food too at the doorsteps.
But Packer’s concept of coloured clothing and white ball with black sight screens have come to stay in the “festival of cricket”, which now has the added element of “cheer leaders” (one is not sure if they understand what they are cheering for) and “macho” drummers beating the life out of their drums to add to the din.
While the judgment of on-field umpires was the sole criterion for giving decisions during the ‘rewind era’ of about 40 year ago, in the present fast ‘forward era’ many decisions get referred to technology, especially with the Decisions Review System aka DRS coming into vogue.
In this era of ‘technology of cricket’ rather than ‘technique of cricket’, an attempt is made to explain a few of the gadgets or ‘marvels of cricketing wonder’.
Hawkeye: A computer system first used in 2001 for showing the path of a cricket ball. It is a commonly used to confirm the umpires decisions, especially for adjudicating LBW decisions during the DRS.
Spidercam: A system that allows television cameras to move both vertically and horizontally over a cricket pitch.
Hot Spot: Technology used to review whether the bat has hit the ball, particularly when there is a small nick. The Hot Spot uses infra-red cameras to sense and measure heat from friction generated by a collision, such as ball on pad, ball on bat, ball on ground or ball on glove.
Stump Camera: Stump camera is a small camera hidden inside the stumps at both ends providing a unique angle to
Snick-o-Meter: A very sensitive microphone located in one of the stumps to pick up sound when the ball nicks the bat. This technology is only used to give television audiences more information and to show if the ball did or did not actually hit the bat.
LED stumps & bails: As soon as the bails get dislodged from their groove s, the stumps and the bails start blinking.
Slow motion cameras: Used for judging run-out decisions.
Measuring speed of the ball: Using technology and Doppler Shift principle, the speed of a ball is measured using a radar gun similar to measuring the speed of a moving car.
Cricket Umpire Counter: Gone are the days of umpires using small pebbles to count the number of balls bowled by a bowler. Instead, they use a device that can count balls, overs and wickets. It is conveniently designed to be held in the palm and can count upto 99 overs.