Some doubts about Hawkeye

AFTER having watched the England-South Africa Test series I am again left wondering as to the accuracy of Hawkeye, the computer system Sky television and others are using to adjudicate on LBWs and other decisions.


AFTER having watched the England-South Africa Test series I am again left wondering as to the accuracy of Hawkeye, the computer system Sky television and others are using to adjudicate on LBWs and other decisions.

It seems that commentator David Lloyd, too, doesn't subscribe to all of Hawkeye's decisions. -- Pic. ALEX LIVESEY/GETTY IMAGES-

While I am not opposed to the use of technology to assist umpires and it has been a great help in deciding run outs and stumpings, I am less certain in the accuracy with other decisions, particularly LBWs.

And after viewing The Oval Test I was left with the impression that commentators David Lloyd and Ian Botham felt the same way.

In separate LBW appeals, Lloyd, not only a Test batsman, but also a first class umpire, offered the view that a certain LBW appeal was not out as the ball was missing the leg stump.

Botham did the same later in the match and I agreed with their opinions.

On both occasions the umpires also agreed, but Hawkeye suggested the balls would have hit the stumps.

Interestingly, neither commentator mentioned a word about Hawkeye's decision.

This surprised me for neither of them are short of a word or three hundred and their silence left me with the feeling that they didn't want to criticise one of their channel's much publicised innovations.

I have been left wondering for some time now about Hawkeye and other similar systems. My major concern lies with angles and bounce.

In both of the appeals mentioned above the angle was the key.

In both appeals the commentators and I felt that the angle from the bowler's arm would have made the ball miss the leg stump quite comfortably.

But Hawkeye said no, and I was left wondering whether Hawkeye just judges angles from the time the ball hits the pitch and doesn't take into consideration what it does in the air before that.

Bounce or height, whatever you like to call it, is another area which, I feel, offers grave doubt.

The vagrancies of a turf pitch pose one of the great challenges for batsmen. Balls can deviate off line due to seam or just the unevenness of the surface.

This can be sideways or up and down. Height or bounce can vary almost from inch to inch depending on the unevenness of the surface, the hardness or softness, grass or lack of it and simply wear and tear.

Balls can explode off the surface in worn areas or deviate up or down or sideways due to the indentation caused by balls landing on the pitch.

Fortunately, deviations do not happen every ball, but they are inevitable, particularly with regard to height.

Marcus Trescothick is more intent on hitting boundaries than rotating the strike. This was the reason why his Oval 219 was the first three-figure knock in his last 24 Test innings. — Pic. CLIVE ROSE/GETTY IMAGES-

This is very obvious from the thousands upon thousands of replays I have seen in recent times.

Without understanding the intricacies of these computer systems, but knowing a little about cricket and the vagrancies of 22 yards of turf, I am left in doubt about whether Hawkeye operates on a common factor of height or whether it is able to take in every single inch of the pitch and base its height factor on that.

The other factor which worries me is distance in front of the crease when the batsman is hit on the pads while playing forward.

Obviously, if the ball seams before it hits the pad the angle will widen, to the extent of even missing the stumps, the further the batsman reaches forward.

Once again I have doubts as to whether Hawkeye reads this correctly.

What all this discussion illustrates clearly is how difficult umpiring is and generally what a good job a top umpire does.

Marcus Trescothick's wonderful 219 in The Oval Test clearly illustrates the changing pattern of run-scoring in the modern game.

There is a huge emphasis in the modern game, particularly in England, to play the big shots. Fours and sixes to the detriment of ones, twos and threes.

In thinking about this I am reminded of the old saying, `If you concentrate on picking up the pennies the pounds will look after themselves.'

At The Oval Trescothick batted 9 � plus hours and hit over 30 fours. This means he scored well over half of his runs in boundaries.

It also means that he played a lot of dot balls and didn't rotate the strike enough and missed too many opportunities to pick up extra runs.

As a coach I was obviously interested in the fours but more concerned with dot balls.

The more dot balls bowled the more opportunities it gave for bowlers to put pressure and the more opportunities missed to build a bigger score.

Inevitably, it also means that the batsman has to take more chances, often attempting and sometimes succeeding with shots that contain a high risk of getting out.

It probably also illustrates why it was only Trescothick's first Test century in his last 24 innings.

Undoubtedly, one of the major ingredients in being a successful opener is strike rotation.

Bill Lawry and I worked out very early in our career that the best place to be in against the new ball was at the bowler's end. It worked well for us and was obviously the cornerstone on which we built any success that came our way.

Trescothick is a very gifted hitter of the ball. If he learns more about manoeuvring the good ball about he will make run-getting easier for himself and his partner.