(Caveat: The language of cricket can be bewildering to one not initiated into its strangeness. Wickets are the three vertical things behind the batter at one end and in front of the umpire at the other, you thought? Well, it could also mean the strip, called pitch, between the two sets of stumps on which a bowler bowls the balls. There are many such.  Cognoscenti understand them from the context. No effort has been made below to make it clear to those who are not familiar with cricketing terms as it may make the article unreadable! For more fun with Cricket please read Chapter Seven of Bill Bryson’s book Down Under)

The rules of cricket state that a player is dismissed when the “wicket is broken” under certain conditions. Further they define the term “wicket is broken” as, “29.1 The wicket is broken* - The wicket is broken when at least one bail is completely removed from the top of the stumps, or one or more stumps is removed from the ground.

The umpire has to decide if “at least one bail is completely removed from the top of the stumps”. That means that there is no contact between the bails and either of the stumps on which it rests. The umpire’s decision changes the course of the game and is prone to human error. Any technical aid to the umpire would be most welcome, especially when one of the teams or players believes that the bails were not completely dislodged or that it was dislodged only after the player given out was “home” - a safe position as dictated by the rules. This is where the “Zing” bails come in.

Unlike the wooden bails universally used earlier, and even now in many games, the Zing bails, - Zings for short - are made with transparent plastic and house electronics that make a bail glow when completely dislodged from the top of the stumps. Glowing bails were first used in international cricket in the One Day International Cricket World Cup in 2015, having been approved for use by the International Cricket Council in July 2013. The very next year, 2016, the spectators and TV viewers were treated to the spectacle of glowing wickets (stumps) and bails.

The glowing bails was an invention of Bronte Eckermann of Australia. He applied for a patent in Australia. The title of the patent is a very bland sounding “System for indicating movement of an article from one position or orientation to another position or orientation”** and does not even mention cricket or bails. He is cited as both the inventor and the applicant in that patent. The next patent which disclosed the glowing wickets are in the name of the company Chowz Pty. Ltd., registered in Australia. Eckermann is one of the three inventors cited in this patent, the other two being Nicholas Luke Schultz and Boris Combeau. The title of that patent is bland too but at least mentions cricket and wicket  – “Improved wicket components for cricket”.

The abstract describes the nature of the first invention as: “A cricket stump and bail assembly including at least one stump, at least one bail (1, 2) and at least one indicator (34, 35) responsive to a trigger event which indicates to an observer that displacement of either the bail (1, 2) or the stump has occurred from a first position to a second position”.  And the basic figure looks like this.

There are now more related products that you can view at https://zings.biz/. Compared to the glowing bails described in the first patent the technology of the later ones is far more advanced. They use a microprocessor, among other innovations, and claim that they indicate the bails being completely off the wickets, in milliseconds.

A corresponding patent has been granted in India too and if you are interested, look for the patent number 378785 and application number 202034049701 on the Indian patent office’s public search site.***