Coming to a Screen Nearby: Gizmo Wars

By Brenkley, Stephen | The Independent (London, England), May 13, 2001 | Go to article overview
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Coming to a Screen Nearby: Gizmo Wars


Brenkley, Stephen, The Independent (London, England)


NOT ALL is hunky-dory in the burgeoning trade of televised cricket gizmos. There is a detectable frostiness between the opposing sides who produced the two systems claimed to allow more accurate analysis of lbw decisions.

Since both Sky Scope, which was unveiled last week, and Hawk- Eye, which hits the screens on Thursday, were based on missile- tracking technology, it could be said that Star Wars has come to cricket.

Hawk-Eye, which will be used on Channel 4, was first announced last summer but needed rigorous testing before it could be seen in action. Thus forewarned, Sky Sports have come up with their own device and are claiming to be innovators as they managed to let viewers see it for the first time in the match between Derbyshire and the Pakistanis.

"We came up with the idea first, our system works better, I think we'll use it better, ours is quicker and is slightly more scientific," said the Hawk-Eye inventor, Dr Paul Hawkins. The Sky Sports producer, Barney Francis, said: "We've always been seen as pioneers in cricket. The application of this system is another great advancement. Our viewers will be better informed than the players, the coaches and even the umpires."

Hawkins is a scientist with the Roke company, which is part of Siemens. Much of his research into Hawk-Eye was funded by Channel 4's cricket producers, Sunset and Vine. Sky Scope, on the other hand, was developed by the Defence Evaluation and Research Agency. "I find it odd that they've used some parts of our system they had access to but not other elements of it," said Hawkins. "It's also disconcerting that Dera, a government body, are doing more commercial work like this. It's got nothing to do with cricket.

"As a scientist it was slightly disappointing that Sky Scope got on air first, but the difference will be seen, I think. We will have a better aspect on things like the ball pitching and swinging. The important thing in all this is not for cricket, it's for the benefit of the viewers."

Sky may or may not know that Hawkins is already working on further gizmos. He was reluctant to be precise (presumably in case of industrial espionage and Sky spies), but a device to calibrate more effectively whether the ball has taken the edge of the bat cannot be ruled out.

Holland days

IN MAKING a century for Sussex last Wednesday, Bastiaan Zuiderent made the highest score by a Dutchman in first-class cricket. But his 122 was not quite the first century by a player from Holland.

Bas, as he is known, was preceded by Roland Lefebvre, who scored exactly 100 going in at No 8 for Somerset against Worcestershire in 1991. Lefebvre, who finished his career with Glamorgan in 1996 after taking 149 wickets, is by some distance the most successful Dutch cricketer. He was by no means the first to play in England, however.

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Coming to a Screen Nearby: Gizmo Wars
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