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Saturday July 30 2011

To everyone except cricket fans, WWW means the “world wide web” (yawn), but to us true believers it spells hat trick, three consecutive wickets in three consecutive balls.  Which was what Stuart Broad got this afternoon against India, in among a couple of other Ws.

Antoine tW . . | . 1 . . 4 1 | . . W W W . | . Wittered that I must have been all excited, but actually I missed it.  I was out in the sunshine.  I only clocked it, on my laptop, when I stopped in at Marie’s Cafe in Lower Marsh for some of her delicious chicken and cashew nuts with rice, after visiting Gramex (also in Lower Marsh) to stock up on cheap classical CDs.

By then, England were already batting, and it was nearly the close.  There had already been another W (Cook – having a rotten series (12, 1, 2, 5 so far) – cricket eh? funny old game), but mercifully there were no more.

I said in this, a couple of days ago, that if India hit back hard after their Lord’s disappointment, this has the makings of the best series here since 2005, and behold, India have hit back.  England will have to bat very well tomorrow.

While in Lower Marsh, I took this artistic snap.  Well, I like it:

image

And what with all the sunshine and all the great cricket (Surrey also won in a very close finish - earlier on in that game, Ramprakash was given out for “obstructing the field”, which happens in proper cricket about once a decade if that, and which I heard on the internet radio commentary just before I left home) and the great CDs I’d bought, I was in a really good mood.  So instead of just getting the bus home, I strolled across Westminster Bridge like it was 2005 and took photos of people taking photos.  Here are my favourites of those snaps:

imageimageimageimage

When I got home and got to see the test match highlights on the telly, I discovered that the middle W of Stuart Broad’s hat trick should never have been given.  Harbhajan Singh clearly hit it before it struck his pad, yet the umpire gave him out LBW.  Still, the Indians would insist on not having techno-reviews, so they kind of deserve it.  Hard on Harbhajan though.

Talking of techno-reviews, everyone is trashing Hot Spot, which is the one that shows if the ball has struck the edge of the bat, sometimes.  What the players are saying is that sometimes, the ball does strike the edge of the bat, but doesn’t show up on Hot Spot, especially now that the batsmen all put Vaseline on their bats, in order to confuse Hot Spot.

However, correct me if I am wrong, fellow cricket fans, but this merely means that Hot Spot shouldn’t over-rule an umpire’s on-the-pitch opinion that the batsman did snick it.  If Hot Spot says he did snick it, but the umpire says not, then Hot Spot is still right.  Right?  So, Hot Spot is still some use, and should not be totally got rid of. The rule should be: If the umpire says you’re out and Hot Spot says not out, you’re out.  If the umpire says not out and Hot Spot says out, you’re out.  Only if they are unanimous that you are not out, are you not out.  You say that that is hard on the batsmen?  I say it would serve the bastards right for putting Vaseline on their bats.

I suspect that the last couple of paragraphs of your post are ultimately about the Laxman non-out that occurred earlier in the day. The fieldsmen thought that it was out, the umpire gave it not out, the batting side called for a review, and the Hot Spot did not show anything, so the umpire was quite correctly not overruled, although Shane Warne (commentating) said that he had a hunch the batsman had actually hit it. The controversy occurred when “Snicko” was run on the same ball by the television company a few minutes later, which showed that Laxman had clearly hit it.

So India gained one and lost one over the day, I suppose.

With respect to reviews of LBWs, l have no problem with technology being used to find out what happened. There are four factors that are taken into account when deciding if a batsman is out LBW. Firstly, where did the ball bounce. (Did it pitch outside the leg stump, in line with the stumps, or outside the off stump?). Secondly where did the ball hit the batsman? (Once again, leg, off, or in front?). Thirdly, did the batsman hit the ball before it hit the pad? Fourthly, was the ball going to hit the stumps? Replays should be used to check on the first three, so Harbhadjan Singh should have been given not out. But as you say, his team did not want this kind of review.

However, I do have problems with using computer software to predict the path of the ball and using this in decisions, for reasons I have stated elsewhere. This shouldn’t prevent replays being used for the uncontroversial bits, though.

Posted by Michael Jennings on 31 July 2011

If by “ultimately” you mean that was what I was “ultimately” thinking about, no.  I missed all that.  I did not pay exclusive attention to the cricket either in the later afternoon (see the posting) or earlier.

The heart of it is that a snick is more likely to be missed than invented, either by an umpire or by technology, but especially by technology.

And you seem to agree:

Umpire: Laxman not out
Hot Spot: Laxman not out
Snicko: Laxman out
Jennings: Laxman out

You score it out by one vote to two (a bit like Thatcher outvoting everybody else on spending cuts).  I.e. you say that if anyone or anything spots a snick, it should be out. I pretty much agree.  Snicko would not make it up, is the basis of the argument that Laxman was indeed out.

Although, I do think an umpire often does see a snick that didn’t happen.  More to the point: hear.  Which is why I prefer technology for caught behinds, if technology says out.

Also, has there ever been a case where Snicko said not out, but Hot Spot said definitely out?

Re Harbhajan, did Hot Spot agree with the slomo cameras that Harbhajan was definitely not out?  I presume so.

And am I correct in assuming that the problem with Snicko for reviewing is that it is, for the moment anyway, too slow in yielding its results?

Posted by Brian Micklethwait on 31 July 2011

I think everybody was entirely correct in the Laxman decision. The onfield umpire had to give the batsman the benefit of the doubt as he could not see the edge, and neither the replay nor Hotspot gave a reason for the onfield umpire to overrule him. Entirely correct in terms of process and no person made a mistake, but none the less the wrong decision in terms of what likely happened, which we know because there was more technology that was not used in the decision. (I think that it is a “length of time taken” reason why snicko is not used, so perhaps that can be fixed at some point. It is not beyond belief that people will find some way to game that one, too).

With the Harbhajan decision, it was trickier because the umpire made a clear mistake of a kind that a good umpire is not supposed to mistake and that a review system is supposed to overrule. Once again, though, a situation where all available technology was not ruled, and we likely got a wrong decision.

If Laxman had hit it, been given out, and then the pictures and Hotspot had not shown an edge, then the on field umpire would have been overruled, as I understand the rules. This is less likely to happen, though, as a batsman who knows he is out and who has been given out is unlikely to ask for a review, particularly given that this is likely to be seen as unsporting if the review confirms the decision. So in the case of catches, the fact that Hotspot is prone to false negatives is less of an issue. (Except, inevitably, someone in a crucial situation will ask the question anyway, particularly if Hotspot is known to make mistakes).

And of course in the case of an LBW, the question of whether the batsman hit it can have the opposite effect. Edge = not out. No edge = out. So if Hotspot is prone to false negatives, then it is going to give batsmen out when they are not out in LBW situations. You can have different rules for Hotspot in LBW than catch situations, but things are then getting complicated.

I think the problem is that the players have learned to game Hotspot, probably due to this business with the Vaseline. I think it either needs to be fixed, replaced or supplemented with something else, or removed from the decision process.

Posted by Michael Jennings on 01 August 2011
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