THE recent cricket Test series between England and Pakistan saw the use of technology turn the cricket world on its head. This series, which was a whitewash for Pakistan, resulted in 43 dismissals using what was known as the Decision Review System (DRS).Many of these were ‘Leg Before Wicket’ (LBW) decisions. However, the number 43 beats the previously held record of 35 which arose between Pakistan and the West Indies.
What is interesting is that India, in its recent series Down Under in Australia, still refused to accept the technology of the DRS.They would have preferred to have the umpires make the decision.This is interesting because recently the chairman of the Gauteng Umpire’s Association said that India’s reluctance to use modern technology was, in his view, based on the belief that the umpires may refuse to make marginal decisions against some of the better known, world famous batsmen such as Sachin Tendulkar, Mahendra Dhoni, and Gautam Gambhir.The Indian perception is that they have a better chance against the human umpire, as opposed to the machine.
The first time that this type of technology was ever used in a cricket match was in South Africa in the 1992 Test series, when the Indian cricket team paid their first visit to South Africa.Ali Bacher, then CEO of SA Cricket, was introduced to a patented system which involved having a television camera at the square leg umpire so that one could judge whether a batsman was runout or stumped. Bacher discussed this with his Indian counterpart, Ajit Wadekar, a former international player who agreed and they then put it the two captains, who also agreed. The CEOs did not consult with their cricket boards but instead simply took the decisions themselves, together with their captains.
The technology used then, that is television cameras opposite the batting crease of a square leg boundary, dealt with stumpings and run-outs. It did not, for example, follow what is currently used to track the flight of a bowled ball to see whether a batsman is out LBW.This came with later improvements.One such improvement was the Hawkeye, also a patented system, which is used in tennis to show whether a ball is out, or on the service or backline. Furthermore, the current system allows for the tracking of the flight of a ball for LBW decisions.
All this flows from protecting the technology through the patent system. In order to obtain a valid patent, an invention must be “new”as defined in the Patents Act. To be “new”, the invention must not have been known, used or described anywhere in the world. In addition, the invention must not have been described in any technical journal, or in any patent specification or on the internet, for example.This novelty test is very strictly applied.
When this new square leg television camera technology was applied for the first time in an international series, way back in 1992, the match referee was Clive Lloyd from the West Indies. Surprisingly, the first TV decision was a runout decision given against Tendulkar (who seems to be protected from the system due to the Indian team not wanting to use the modern technology that is now available).
Bacher relates the story that in that same 1992 Test series against India, during the second Test Steve Buckner, an umpire from the West Indies, had gone public to say that he would not be relying on this newly introduced technology.However, in the second test at the Wanderers, when Jonty Rhodes was on about nine or so, there was a very loud appeal for a runout – but Buckner ruled against the fielding team and Rhodes was allowed to continue batting.Later replays showed that Rhodes was clearly out and umpire Buckner recanted, apologised to the Indian cricketers, and thereafter vowed to use this new technology.
As patent protection can be extended internationally through what is known as the Patent Co-operation Treaty (PCT) system, international protection can be obtained - thereby ensuring that the patentee secures protection in the leading or major cricketing playing countries. It would, therefore, also be possible to obtain patent protection in the soccer playing countries of the world.
The technology was turned down by the world football association, Fifa, at the 2010 World Cup football event in South Africa. However, because of certain glaring mistakes, including goals which were disallowed, there is a growing body of support to ensure that this patented technology is now used in the football world as well.