India vs West Indies: How does the snickometer work?

Rohit Sharma’s controversial dismissal in the World Cup match against the Windies sparked debates over the authenticity of snicko in modern-day cricket.

India vs West Indies: How does the snickometer work?

The Decision Review System (DRS) was introduced in international cricket to hand an opportunity to the players to review decisions by on-field umpires. The pattern involves checking for the front foot no ball, bat edge and LBW appeals. 

On Thursday, Rohit Sharma’s dismissal — caught behind off Kemar Roach in the World Cup match against West Indies at Old Trafford in Manchester — led to frenzied talk about the DRS tools.

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The Snicko operation

If the on-field umpire’s decision — out or not out — is challenged by the players (batters or members of the fielding side), it goes to the third umpire who uses the DRS tools to reach a decision.

The Snickometer, commonly known as snicko, is one of the major tools apart from the Hawk Eye and Ultra Edge. It was invented by British scientist Allan Plaskett in the ‘90s. The device operates on the basis of sound and visual evidences. This is specifically used to scrutinise a nick (for caught behind), bat-pad or LBW.

The stump microphone picks up the sound and relays it to an oscilloscope — a laboratory instrument used to display and analyse the waveform of electronic signals. It detects the sound waves while the visuals are played in slow-motion.

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If the ball hits the bat, the snicko graph is scanned for verification. A spike in the graph will determine an edge. If the ball touches the pad or glove, the impact is flatter. The third umpire tries to sync the sound with the replays.

Different sounds

The bat hitting the ground or the ball touching the pad may have different sounds, more than one, which makes the job of the third umpire tougher. The timing of each sound graph is analysed to check if it coincides with the ball passing the willow. In case of daylight between the bat and ball, the graph remains undisturbed.

Inconsistent DRS has often troubled the Indian cricket team. India had a referral turned down by the TV umpire in the fourth ODI against Australia in Mohali in March. 

Ashton Turner, batting on 41, survived the caught behind appeal off Yuzvendra Chahal and went on to win the match for the Aussies. He smashed a 43-ball 84.

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The replays suggested a gap between the ball and the bat, but the snicko had a spike.

In the ongoing World Cup, Virat Kohli walked out without even nicking the ball in the high-pressure game against Pakistan. 

Former India captain Sourav Ganguly, commentating on the match, cleared the conception to a certain extent. “There is a creak in Kohli’s handle. It is a common problem in this part of the world. When you keep getting hit on top of the bat, the handle starts creaking. When nobody believes you have it, it is actually the sound that makes the batsman believe there is some edge,” he said on Star Sports.