After a string of controversial decisions — by on-field umpires and technology-enabled referral system — the Ashes series is now in a ‘Hot Spot’.
A row erupted on Wednesday after Australian media, led by the Channel Nine network, reported that the International Cricket Council (ICC) was investigating whether some of the England and Australian batsmen had used silicone tape on bats to hoodwink the Decision Review System (DRS).
The DRS has had a controversial run. India was part of the first-ever Test series featuring the DRS in Sri Lanka five years ago but has opposed the system of referrals to the TV umpire, saying it’s accuracy is doubtful.
This time, the focus is on the ‘Hot Spot’ — one of the DRS techniques that uses infrared cameras to determine whether the ball has struck the batsman, bat or pad—after it failed to indicate that England’s Kevin Pietersen had nicked the ball in the third Test at Old Trafford that ended in a draw on Monday. Pietersen was given caught behind.
The stump microphone picked the sound and the ‘snickometer’ — not part of DRS but used by broadcasters to inform TV viewers — showed there was a clear edge. What has raised the eyebrows is the fact the Hot Spot, a far superior technology, failed to pick the nick.
There is no specific ban on using silicone tape in the bat, but it would still amount to cheating if that was the case.
ICC CEO Dave Richardson, in a statement, denied the governing body was investigating any player and that Geoff Allardice, its general manager-cricket, only planned to meet both the teams at Durham (venue of fourth Test) to see how best to use DRS.
But Warren Brennan, inventor of Hot Spot, suggested the ICC was indeed looking into the issue. “We have agreed with the ICC that we will not be making any comments in regard to this matter until the ICC has a chance to investigate in Durham,” he told HT in an emailed reply.
On the 2011 tour of England, former skipper Michael Vaughan tweeted that VVS Laxman must have applied vaseline on the bat to confuse the Hot Spot after a caught behind appeal was turned down in the second Test.
Laxman was left furious and Vaughan wriggled out, saying the avalanche of criticism from fans that followed showed they lacked a sense of humour.