Sporting events provide the best form of entertainment to spectators all over the world. Referees, umpires and judges are employed to control the game and ensure conduct as per stipulated rules. They are humans and human beings are prone to judgmental errors.
Therefore, over a period of time, latest technology has been continuously used in all sports to modify rules, format and conduct of events to bring in more excitement and fairness in the true spirit of the game. Otherwise, watching same sport in the same manner every year would be boring, lackluster and unimpressive.
Today, Cricket is the most important and widely played sport in the world and has the largest fan following. It is played in the form of test cricket and limited overs format in all cricket playing nations. Cricket World Cup for limited overs cricket (fifty overs match) is held every four years. Technology is considered as the greatest boon for this game and has played a very major role in all World Cups making them very fair, acceptable to spectators and more challenging.
World Cup 2015
The last World Cup was held in 2011 in India. This World Cup is jointly being hosted by Australia and New Zealand from 14 Feb to 29 Mar 2015. In the opening match on 14 Feb 2015, Sri Lanka took on New Zealand at Christchurch, New Zealand. The finals will be played on 29 Mar. A total of 49 matches will be played- 26 in Australia and 23 in New Zealand. The pitches are hard and bouncy and will support fast bowlers rather than spinners.
What Is Unique In This World Cup
Few unique features of this World Cup are:-
- Use of Multi facet technology features.
- Two new balls will be used- reverse swing not possible.
- Power plays reduced from three to two. In first power play which will be from over 1 to over 10, only two players will be allowed outside ring. For second power play of five overs which can be taken by batting side before 40 overs, only 3 players will be allowed outside ring. This will help batsmen score runs freely.
- The total prize money has been raised from US $8 million to US $10 million.
- Super over rule (One Over Per Side Eliminator- OOPSE) will be used to decide the winner only during the final match and not during knock out stage as was done in World Cup 2011.
The above features prove the point that up gradation is constantly required in cricket to make it more appealing and worth playing.
Need For Dependence on Technology
The game is controlled by two umpires on field and a third umpire (off the field) to whom both the umpires can refer in case they wish to seek any clarification of any kind or before declaring a batsman out. Umpires are prone to making human errors. Few incorrect decisions can swing the game in favor of the other team.
Haven’t we heard of a team losing a match due to poor umpiring or a batsman missing century due to a wrong LBW decision? History of cricket is replete with many examples of this nature. Therefore, it became mandatory to provide sufficient fool proof technology aids which would help all umpires in taking correct decisions. Thus, Umpires Decision Review System (UDRS) came into force in 2009.
Technology – Boon or Bane
Every coin has two sides. With everything good, something bad also has to be absorbed. Likewise, no matter how much accuracy is obtained through technology, it will be the human mind which has to take the final decision. The gadgets and devices used have their inherent limitations, inaccuracy limits and can sometimes be affected by weather conditions or unwanted noise/sound from surroundings which precludes them from picking up much needed signals/indicators necessary to predict the results.
Not withstanding the slight limitations of these devices, it is worthwhile utilizing these to enable umpires to take a right decision.
Assistance of technology adds flavor to cricket and obviates any chances of umpires taking a wrong decision. Therefore, in no way it is a bane. It is a great boon today and for future times as well.
Technology has continuously been absorbed in various formats of the game in spite of resentment form few cricketing nations about some features of technology which they thought were inaccurate and not authentic. However, with passage of time, many aspects of technology were adopted in cricket and accepted by all. UDRS is gainfully being employed in this World Cup after being tried in test cricket in past few years and in last World Cup.
Impact Of Technology
In the succeeding paragraphs, various dimensions of technology and how they have impacted the game/umpires/players/social media etc for good will be highlighted.
The umpire at the bowler’s end can refer an LBW appeal to the third umpire who uses URDS to review the decision and decide whether a batsman is out or not. The system has three components:-
- Hawk Eye– It helps in plotting the trajectory of the delivery (using extrapolation technique) based on inputs of few cameras placed in the field. Then, using the pitch map, it shows whether the ball would have hit the stumps or not. Paul Hawkins is the brain behind this technology.
- Snicko Meter– Based on the audio signals received, this instrument shows whether the ball has hit the bat or pad.
- Hot Spot– It uses Infra Red imaging system to detect whether the ball has hit the pad or the bat. However, Hot Spot, though considered most authentic and accurate, is not being used in this World Cup.
Umpires are being aided by technology for the following as well:-
- Stumps With Lights,Microphone, Cameras. These are called Zing Wickets. Lighting system along with microphone and cameras have been installed in stumps. The bails and stumps light up once they are broken by the ball. This innovation is a great boon and helps on field umpires to decide run outs and stumping. Doubtful cases are referred to third umpire who takes help of slow motion replays to give his verdict.
- No Balls. After a batsman is declared out by the umpires at bowler’s end due to LBW, Catch or Being Bowled, the third umpire checks on TV display if the bowler bowled a no ball or not. If it was a no ball, the batsman is declared not out.
- Stumping and Run Outs. TV displays also help to check out the position of foot during stumping and of bat during run out, at the time of breaking stumps. Decision making is much easier.
- Fielder Touching Boundary Rope. TV display help to check out whether a fielder touched boundary rope in a bid to save a boundary or prevent a six being hit.
- Team Referral. Every team can challenge the decision of umpire at bowler’s end only once by referring it to third umpire. If the decision of umpire is upheld by third umpire, then the team has no right for referrals for the rest of the game. If the umpire’s decision is proved wrong by third umpire, then the batsman is declared not out and team can still have the right for another referral.
- Super Slow/ Slow Replays. Such replays from all the cameras fitted over the ground are the best aid for an umpire in all doubtful cases.
Both batsmen as well as bowlers adapt their games after watching the displays on the giant screens installed in the stadium for the spectators to view and understand the game better. They can use it to their advantage in the following manner:-
- Run Chase Statistics. The Number of runs required to score vis a vis the overs left is always shown on the giant screens provided in the stadium. This information assists batsmen and bowlers to plan out their run chase and bowling methodology respectively.
- Batsman’s Strong Zone. Prior to a match, strong zone of few batsmen is displayed and commented upon by experts. Bowlers can use it to their advantage by not bowling in those areas.
- Deliveries Map. Similarly, all six deliveries of an over are displayed on the screen in graphic form in six different colors. Batsmen can study the pattern of bowling adopted by a particular bowler to his advantage.
The best innovations are being used by commentators, presenters and match analysts.
- Within Studio. They discuss out with expert comments various aspects of game, strategy of each team, technique of each batsman/bowler with graphics on a screen or on the center table which the TV viewers comprehend with ease.
- Pitch report. Expert cricketers and commentators seek views of each captain after the toss. Later, in the studio, pitch report is analyzed and views are expressed about likely total to win the match. This is compared to scores at that ground on previous occasions. This is an interesting discussion for TV viewers.
Training Of Teams
Latest technology is being used to train teams.
- Pitch Vision. It is a perfect training aid which helps coaches and players to gather data relating to bowlers, batsmen and pitch conditions. Thus, they can check out how fast a bowler is bowling or find out the mistakes made by batsman while executing ground shots and so on.
- Videos. The videos of above can be shared on face book or emails. This aid was extensively used in training during Indian Premier League last year at Eden Gardens, Kolkata. Earlier it has been used at Lord’s in England.
- Hawk Eye Simulator. It is a very potent coaching tool which measures the speed and accuracy of a ball bowled by bowler and allows him to watch the same thereby helping him to correct his mistakes.
Technology And Social Media
World Cup has taken India by storm. The youth of the country is fascinated by cricket and wants Team India to win the Cup once again. Social Media is very strong in India and is being extensively used to promote as well as follow World Cup through following:-
- Twitter. As on date, 89% of the twitter users of the world are in India and 2 out of 3 people are using Twitter to follow World Cup through #cwc2015.
- Messages On Twitter. Even Prime Minister Mr Narendra Modi tweeted 15 tweets to each team member of Team India before the start of World cup to wish the team Good Luck. This is the best use of power of twitter to encourage players to give their best for the country.
- Campaign. At the same time, a campaign #wontGiveitBack is being run by a sports network to garner support for Team India who had so emphatically won the World Cup in 2011.
- Match Centre. ICC CWC 2015 Match Centre which is powered by SAP HANA is very popular among cricket lovers and fans. This Match Centre provides fastest live scores anywhere anytime on line. It connects cricket fans to real time digital information.The analysts store all cricketing data of World Cup and provide access to the viewers who refer to the Match Centre which is available on ICC website. Career details of each player along with his photo can be seen after clicking on his name.
Eye catching visuals have added a new dimension to watching a cricket match on TV at home. Similarly, spectators in the stadium get mesmerized by displays of statistical data and graphics. Thus, their outing to witness a cricket match becomes a life long event to remember.
This world Cup has successfully provided all the excitement, glitter and fascinating cricket to the viewers on TV/spectators through the following:-
- Replays of run outs, stumpings, LBW and catches on boundary rope.
- Impressive well lit hoardings around the ground promoting various brands.
- Colorful stands with huge attractive screens.
- Impressive countdown by players of both teams to indicate start of the match.
- Displays relating to statistics of a batsman, bowler or a wicket keeper.
- Comparison of scores of both the teams.
- Access to Match Centre.
Future Of Technology
The next World Cup will be held in England in 2015. It is hoped that Hot Spot technology along with many more new innovations will be extensively used therein. By then, England Premier League (EPL), the concept of which is at a nascent stage, would have been launched. That transition will be a great challenge to Indian Premier League (IPL) and Big Bash League (BBL) of Australia.
Also, there is a thought process on for reducing the World Cup matches to 40 overs per team. If that is implemented, greater reliance on Technology would be warranted to keep pace with the changing cricketing scenario.
It is beyond doubt that technology has come a long way in embracing the game of Cricket thereby, making it more attractive, competitive and above all, very fair in it’s conduct to the extent possible.
In no way Technology should be considered as a bane. Instead, it is a Boon for Cricket World Cup. It has improved standard of the game which in turn has improved competitive spirit among the teams who come better and well prepared to play hard in the ground with the sole aim of winning the game.
Besides the above, the use of technology in this greatest sporting event on Earth has enthralled spectators, TV viewers and mobile users tremendously. It has provided them with desired fun, entertainment and excitement.
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