The favourite refrain of the purists inside and outside the game has been: ‘Stop flirting and get back to cricket!’ Believe me, the refrain hasn’t always been particularly directed towards the introduction of technology… as, from the ‘Sharmila’ days of Pataudi to the ‘Anushka’ days of Virat, the refrain has also stepped out of the ambit of technology. I’m sure we all remember the way the introduction of brightly coloured player dresses was frowned upon, the way one-day and then the 20-20 formats fought for their right to stay on, the jeers for the cheer-leaders… all combined to shed tears for the pathetic dismissal of the pristine format where sometime, said the critics, ‘nothing really moved for an entire day’.
Technology has, however, been the main player flirting with the game… in more ways than the average cricket enthusiast would care to examine. I mean, look at the way the bookies (and some players, of course) have used a heavenly mix of smartphones, satellite links, and good ol’ coloured kerchiefs peeping out of their pocket to give the game twists and turns that even the best of thrillers sometimes lack. But aren’t we digressing yet another time… even before I’ve settled on the crease to face the pacers, so to say!
So before the yorkers and the bouncers come hurtling towards me, let me hurriedly begin by mentioning that if I do not agree with your decision about the quality of this post, I am certainly going to go for the DRS! Well, the Decision Review System was first tried in 2008 in a Test series between Sri Lanka and India and has since then been used to give the batsman or the captain of the fielding side a real fighting chance of getting a field decision over-turned. A simple appeal by making the ‘T’ sign with both forearms at shoulder height indicates the Third Umpire to use other technologies at his disposal to make the right decision. Now the other technologies at his behest are Hot Spot and Slow Motion Replays among other things like a quick whispering consultation with his saner self.
For those readers who may be sensitive to words like ‘hot spot’ I think I will need to clarify that this is just a review system where even the teeniest contact between the ball and the bat is detected by two infra-red cameras strategically placed at two ends of the ground. Yes, hot spot is indeed about heat generated but not in the way Sunny Leone does or any of our own desi and cranky fringe groups do so often. By the way, even Hot Spot began its career with a controversy after the 2012 UK Ashes series and so there are players who are still not so convinced about this technology.
I was watching the India vs South Africa match a few days back and all the technology pouring forth in all its glory makes even a couch potato proud of his involvement with the game. Look at the way Hawkeye that was introduced in 2001, brings you the path that a ball has taken! I understand that such a technology can be quite a spoil-sport when two friends are debating where the ball was really heading to… and the graphic pops up to prove them both wrong. This happens quite often as cricket fans in our country aren’t really thorough about even the placement of the third man and are constantly debating where the off-side really is. There have been times when I had to intervene to say, ‘Off-side is on both the sides and it depends entirely on the left or right orientation of the batsman.’ I know this only increases the level of intrigue, but then cricket is so full of it, isn’t it?
So is this all the technology that we have? Well, we do have one that uses a highly sensitive microphone in one of the stumps enabling the Snick-o-Meter pick up even the conventionally inaudible nicks and can change the direction of a match! The Snick-o-Meter also has had its days of controversy but those were all because the technology used was comparatively nascent and so, after upgrades, it was re-introduced in 2013 and seems to be helping the game quite a bit. In the same year that the Snick-o-Meter was reintroduced, the game also saw the grand entry of the Ball Spin RPM that gave us some charming trivia about the speed of the spin of the ball after release.
The invasion of smart technology isn’t over. I know they are soon going to launch ways that make even the slightest squirm of a player and load us with trivia about the Squirm Quotient of a batsman or a bowler or even a fielder and there will be someone like Harsha Bhogle analysing and telling us how it measures the subliminal intent or interest in the game and how it is going affect his final annual rating as a player. I mean, there is no end to technology and these introductions, I’m positive, are aimed to make the game play fair and the decision-making precise.
We cannot really ask technology to stop flirting with cricket.
This post is a part of the #BloggerDreamTeam that is an initiative to hunt India’s top bloggers, who will pen down their passion for the World Cup. The team of 11 bloggers will be handpicked by Harsha Bhogle based on quality of writing & knowledge.
04 march 2015