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Snicko vs Hot Spot: Cummins' caught-behind dismissal sparks controversy

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Last updated on 29 Dec 2023 | 12:29 AM
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Snicko vs Hot Spot: Cummins' caught-behind dismissal sparks controversy

While the hotspot said there was nothing, snicko suggested that there was a noise

The advancement of technology in cricket aimed to eliminate obvious human errors, but has it? 

On Friday (December 29), controversy erupted when Australian skipper Pat Cummins was given out on the field caught behind. It happened in the 77th over of Australia's second innings when Aamer Jamal had beaten Cummins’ defences, only for the umpire, Michael Gough, to give it out on-field, with Cummins on 16 off 30. 

The Australian skipper was pretty confident that there was nothing on the bat and immediately went up for a review. While there was an obvious noise in the first viewing, where that noise came from was then a mystery. There are two sides to a review when it comes to caught-behind decisions. 

One stems from a visual sense - hotspot - which uses an infrared imaging system to determine whether the ball has struck the batsman, bat or pad. In this case, the hotspot drew a blank, suggesting that there was nothing on the bat. Not even when the ball went past the bat, supporting Cummins. 

However, the other sense - auditory - painted a completely different picture. The snicko meter, evidently showed that there was a ‘noise’ when the ball went past the bat, completely flummoxing the Australian skipper Cummins. It also left everyone on the commentary shell shocked, with how the decision was given against the all-rounder with just snicko supporting Pakistan’s case. 

“No hot spot, but there is a little spike, so Cummins has to go,” read Cricket.com.au’s tweet in response to the dismissal, which led to a tirade of tweets in favour of the Australian skipper. 

It also brought forward a big question: which of the two senses holds an edge over the other? Given that Cummins was declared out on the field, it didn’t matter in this case, but if the decision was deemed not-out, then what? 

“This is got to do with the calibration between sight and the sound. Sound does travel at a different speed to sight. The technology providers go and calibrate the sound. What we are looking for is the spike as the ball goes past the bat or up to one frame past the bat, that allows the distance between the noise and the stump mic,” said a veteran umpire, Simon Taufel, on 7Cricket network. 

Unlike tennis, where the review system is completely in black or white, cricket still has shades of grey that could still need the ultimatum of the on-field umpires, and in this case, Gough’s decision stood on the field.

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