A Bird’s Eye View of Hawk Eye

This post was first published on 4th March, 2011.
A new debate is in the air after the humdinger of a match between India and England that ended in a tie in the ICC World cup 2011. The Indian team is unhappy with the dubious decision of the Umpire that ruled England’s Ian Bell not out and ultimately cost India the match. Umpires are an inseparable part of a cricket match. The umpire selection panel has selected 18 umpires excluding a reserve umpire so as to officiate the ICC Cricket World Cup 2011.
There are many instances in the history of cricket when Umpire decisions have gone terribly wrong and ultimately costed the match for a particular team.  There is no denying of the fact that Umpiring is a tough task which requires enormous engrossment and a single mistake can lead to a lot of criticism. There are three umpires in each game of which two umpires are present on the field to judge the game and make a decision while the Third umpire helps the field umpires to make the right decision.
Umpires have a very short span of time to make a decision which increases the probability of an error. In order to help minimize human errors while umpiring, International Cricket Council (ICC) has implemented some technologies such as hotspots, Hawkeye and so on which help umpires make a better judgment. But none of these technologies are being used in the 2011 edition of Cricket World Cup. Instead, ICC is using the recently introduced system called Umpire Decision Review System (UDRS) which provides the right to each team to review umpire’s decision twice in a match. UDRS was launched officially on 24th November 2009 during the first test between New Zealand and Pakistan. It was launched for the first time in a One Day International (ODI) game during England Australia series in January 2011 and has been used for the first time in a world cup in the 2011 edition. With the new issue, the UDRS system is under the cloud and talks are on the air about the importance of implementing technologies like Hawkeye so as to help umpires judge better.
Hawk eye system was invented by Mr. Paul Hawkins and Mr. David Sherry of Roke Manner Research Ltd and they filed a patent application (GB 2357207 A) titled “Ball tracking and trajectory prediction”. Hawk-eye is a computer system used to visually track the path of the ball and display a record of its most statistically likely path as a moving image. The system constitutes at least four high-speed video cameras which keep track of the ball from different locations and from different angles. The inputs from the system are rapidly processed by a high-speed video processor and a video tracker. In each frame sent by each camera, the system identifies a group of pixels corresponding to the image of the ball based upon which a 3D position of the ball is calculated for each frame by comparing the position of the ball on at least two separate cameras at the same time.  Based upon a succession of a path built, the system can predict the future flight of the ball. This system can be used in cricket so as to decide the path of the ball which in turn will help to umpire especially in judging an LBW appeal. Some other important applications of Hawk-Eye system include Wagon Wheels which shows areas of field the batsman has been targeting, De Spin which shows how far the ball has turned or deviated after pitching, Pitch maps which shows areas where the ball has hit the pitch, Bee Hives which shows how the ball passes the batsman and Railcam which represents the bowlers variation.
There is no doubt that the use of technologies such as Hawk-eye in the field of cricket has helped umpires make critical decisions with much ease and accuracy and has also made the game more attractive.
Here’s hoping that the use of technologies will make the Cricket fairer in the upcoming matches and leave no one complaining.
Authored by Naveen


Leave a comment