Snickometer that changed way umpiring is done in cricket

Cricket has a lot of technology that makes the game much more interesting and easier to play and also to the umpire. The game of cricket is all about technique and patience. The battle between the ball and the bat is based on fine margins and sometimes it is these fine margins that decide the game of cricket. A simple catch dropped can cause you a game and a bad umpiring decision can win you one. Those are two very different things, dropping a catch is a game’s part but bad umpiring or a wrong decision is not and especially when one can stop it from happening.

Playing cricket amongst thousands of people is a sight to behold. It is nothing better than that and umpiring a game amongst tens of thousands of screaming fans is a nightmare. Cricket is also a game of sound, the sound when the ball hits the bat can tell you the result of that particular shot. It is all about timing it and when there are small edges and snicks happening all around, it is important to hear them rather than see them. This is where the umpire has to be cunning and has to have a focus that of a hunting mammal.

Technology, however, has come to the rescue of the race of umpires. In the mid 1990s, an English scientist Allan Plaskett invented the Snicko. This is a device compiled of many other small devices which will graphically analyze sound and tell whether the batsman has nicked a delivery or not. This sometimes gets tricky because the batters are not as honest as they used to be. They wait for the umpire’s signal and most of the times umpires can be wrong because it is extremely hard to hear the small nicks of the bat.

This is where snicko was first used by Channel 4, the same channel that brought in Hawk-eye and the red zone. Snicko’s technology is very simple, a highly sensitive microphone is placed in one of the stumps. Then that microphone is connected to an oscilloscope where the oscillations would be seen. In between this, there is a filter which will filter out all the other ambient sounds and only keep the ones required.

Now, when the ball hits the bat, that is a piece of wood, the oscillations are sharp and not that long. They are seen on the screen by the umpire. Apart from this, if the bat hits the pad or the ground then the oscillations are long and blunt. The difference can be made out in the waveform. All of this system is then coordinated with slow-motion cameras. Sometimes the bat hits the ground and the ball at a similar time, there is only a slight difference then these cameras are rocked forward and reverse to see exactly when the spikes are occurring in the waveform and of what kind.

Such is the technology that is used in cricket. It is fairly easy but it has transformed the way umpiring is done in today’s day and age. This system is used in the review system that has been integrated into cricket. The batter can question the remark of an umpire for all kinds of decisions. So, this was another technology that transformed the game of cricket. Tomorrow we will be back with another one.

-Unmesh Phule

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