The world’s great cricketing nations are currently slugging it out in a series of one-day international matches at the 2019 ICC Cricket World Cup.
Steeped in history and tradition, today the game takes full advantage of the latest technology to help umpires make the right call. And as the World Cup plays out across England and Wales from 30 May to 14 July, fans across the globe will feel closer than ever to the action.
Every match is being covered by an array of 30 cameras, including one that flies above the field on wires, known as Spidercam.
There are also tiny cameras fitted to the stumps to give viewers that authentic “a ball is travelling towards me at 150 kilometres per hour” feeling and, as you would no doubt expect, there are drone-mounted cameras, too.
Here are three other examples of how technology is improving the game:
Hot Spot: tech that’s game-changing – literally
It’s one of those ever-present cricketing bones of contention: did the batsman’s leg – or, indeed, any other part of his or her body – prevent the ball from hitting the stump?
Travelling at 150 kilometres per hour, it takes less than a second for the ball to leave the bowler’s hand and reach the other end of the pitch, just 20 metres away. It can be tricky for an umpire to judge if a player should be called out.
That’s where Hot Spot comes in. It uses infrared cameras to detect the point of impact between the ball and the obstacle it first makes contact with. If the ball hits a player’s pad on the way past, for example, it will generate friction, and in turn heat – which is picked up by the system to determine where contact was made.
UltraEdge: listen carefully
Picture the scene: the ball hurtles through the air and flies past the bat as it swings. It’s caught by the wicket-keeper, who shouts they’ve caught the player out. The batsman doesn’t agree, saying the bat missed the ball. This happens all the time in cricket.
It may become a thing of the past, though. With a technology called UltraEdge, tiny, unidirectional microphones at the base of the stumps detect the merest hint of an encounter between ball and bat.
It used to be known as the Snickometer before it was given its new superhero-esque name, and now forms part of the cricketing decision review system.
Hawk-Eye: an eye in the sky
As well as being a smash at tennis tournaments, Hawk-Eye is a big catch in the cricketing world, too. From its vantage point above the action, this technology tracks the ball as it flies down the pitch.
Using a combination of algorithms and augmented reality graphics it can then create a representation of the path the ball takes and determine whether a batsman should be declared out in the event of a leg-before-wicket call.
Used in conjunction with Hot Spot, it can help clear up uncertain decisions. But it’s also a big help for television viewers, providing a more immersive and engaging experience by adding a layer of graphical information to the coverage.
Cricket has been around for hundreds of years, originating in England, but is today enjoyed by a truly global audience.
The first Test match was played in 1877, when England travelled to Australia, under the auspices of the Marylebone Cricket Club, better known to cricket fans as the MCC.