Missile technology to bowl C4 over

Technology for predicting the flight paths of missiles could be pressed into service to help cricket umpires, by taking the guesswork out of leg before wicket decisions.

Hawk-Eye, developed by Siemens subsidiary Roke Manor Research, is being used byChannel 4 for the first time this week in its coverage of the first test against Pakistan.

The system uses video images from an array of cameras allied to computer modelling to track the flight of the ball and predict whether it would have hit the stumps. Roke Manor researchers claim it is accurate to within 5mm. It has been set up so that if it predicts the ball would have hit the stumps, it is never wrong. If it predicts a miss, the system is correct more than 99% of the time.

The umpire could be provided with Hawk-Eye’s verdict via a pocket-sized display within seconds, not holding up play.

The system could say whether the ball pitched outside leg stump, whether the ball hit the batsman in line with the wickets and whether the ball would have hit the stumps.

Hawk-Eye also has applications as a coaching aid, for example allowing analysis of parameters of a bowler’s performance such as where the ball pitched, how much it swung, how fast it was travelling and so on. It could assess the correlation between the condition of the pitch and how much the ball bounces.

The England and Wales cricket board has not yet made a decision as to official adoption of Hawk-Eye, but is keeping a watching brief.

England’s recent tour of Sri Lanka prompted discussion of umpiring technology after a number of controversial decisions.

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