What is Hawkeye? Cricket technology explained
For 47 long, (hopefully) hot summer days, the eyes of the cricketing world will be on England and Wales, as the hosts fight to reclaim the Ashes.
Revenge is the only thing on captain Alastair Cook’s mind, after a bewildering 5-0 whitewash suffered Down Under at the hands of the Aussies last time out.
But there could be even more head scratching this summer for out-of-practice armchair fans.
If you haven’t watched a televised Test recently, you’ll probably be bowled over (sorry) by the masses of graphical information.
What’s with all the tech? Well since the introduction of the Decision Review System (DRS), teams are now given the chance to refer disputed decisions to a third umpire.
Three pieces of kit make up the DRS –read on to avoid being caught out this summer.
In a nutshell: Hawkeye is used to analyse and review leg before wicket (LBW) decisions.
By tracking the trajectory of balls in flight, Hawkeye tells us where a ball:
- was pitched
- hit the leg of the batsman
- would’ve ended up (had it not hit the leg)
An umpire gives a batsman ‘out’ if he deems the ball was pitched in line with the stumps and would’ve gone on to hit them, were it not for the batsman’s pad.
If the bowlers think the umpire has failed to or wrongly calls LBW, they can use a referraland ask the third umpire to double check Hawkeye footage from the stands.
It works via a system of six roof-mounted, high-performance cameras which track the ball from different angles.
Another handy use of Hawkeye is for statistical TV analysis of a bowler’s deliveries – showing line, length, spin or swing.
Did you know? Since landing in cricket in 2001, Hawkeye technology has found its way into several other leading sports such as tennis, snooker and football.
In a nutshell: Hot Spot reveals whether a ball has hit the batsman, his bat, or pad.
It only takes the slightest of contact for a batsman to be deemed caught behind, or given LBW. And with balls flying around at speeds of up to 100mph, you can forgive umpires for being fallible.
That’s where Hot Spot comes in. Using infra-red technology, these cameras detect heat caused by the friction of the ball making contact with bat.
While non-audible, this option is often decisive in proving the tiniest of knick of the edge of the bat.
Occasionally, Hot Spot has provoked controversy for not picking up clear ‘edges’ due to a lack of friction from fast balls.
Did you know? The four specialist cameras used at each match cost around £7,500 every day.
Snicko (Real-time snickometer)
In a nutshell: Imposes video with sound - judging whether a ball has made contact with bat.
Snicko is a godsend for officials, for whom detecting those cheekiest of edges off the bat, has long been one of the most complicated parts of the job.
Snickometers were originally only for TV use and deemed untrustworthy for DRS – as they required a technician to overlay pictures with sound recorded from a stump microphone.
But the real-time version debuted in 2013. Now used in tandem with Hot Spot, the all-new automated version combines audio and video - making the review system faster and far more consistent.
The real-time video complete with captured sounds, generates disturbances on a graph – helping the officials to separate fine snicks from false alarms.
Did you know? Snickometers were being used by Channel 4 as far back as 1999.
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