Aussie Cricketing Pundits Err in their Verdicts on Mitch Marsh LBW

Daniel Brettig,  in ESPNcricinfo, 8 November 2016, “Marsh LBW correctly tracked”

Mitchell Marsh’s hotly-debated LBW on the final day of the Perth Test was correctly tracked from its initial point of impact on the allrounder’s front toe, the custodians of EagleEye have confirmed. The decision, which was reversed from Aleem Dar’s initial verdict of not out due to the widening of the zone in which the stumps can be projected to hit by the ICC earlier this year, was openly questioned by a succession of television commentators and also Australia’s captain, Steven Smith, who said it was like Kagiso Rabada was bowling “leg-spin”. The former captain Michael Clarke stated on Channel Nine’s cricket coverage that he was certain the ball was going down the leg side. “I was certain that was missing the stumps,” Clarke said. “When you look at that replay, I thought it was definitely swinging too far and missing the leg stump. “He’ll be really disappointed with that. It has clipped his toe, then clipped his pad, and then got onto the bat. But what I don’t agree with is the line of the delivery once the ball hits him on the toe … I believe the line of that delivery is going down and missing leg stump.”

PERTH, AUSTRALIA - NOVEMBER 07: Mitch Marsh of Australia looks dejected after being dismissed by Kagiso Rabada of South Africa after a DRS referal during day five of the First Test match between Australia and South Africa at WACA on November 7, 2016 in Perth, Australia. (Photo by Ryan Pierse - CA/Cricket Australia/Getty Images)

PERTH, AUSTRALIA – NOVEMBER 07: Mitch Marsh of Australia looks dejected after being dismissed by Kagiso Rabada of South Africa after a DRS referal during day five of the First Test match between Australia and South Africa at WACA on November 7, 2016 in Perth, Australia. (Photo by Ryan Pierse – CA/Cricket Australia/Getty Images)

Similar sentiments were echoed by Clarke’s predecessor Ricky Ponting, while another former captain in Mark Taylor – until recently a member of the ICC cricket committee that has long advocated the use of the DRS and ball-tracking – offered his own criticism of the projection.

However Ian Taylor, head of the New Zealand company Animation Research that provides EagleEye for Nine’s broadcast, told ESPNcricinfo that the tracking used for Marsh’s dismissal had been reviewed and not found to be in error, either in terms of the projection reached or the process used to get there. “I talked to my guys [in Perth] and we talked to the ICC and showed the process we went through, and we’re happy with it,” Taylor said. “They had a really good pitching point off the pitch, and a really good contact point on the shoe, it wasn’t on the pad. They felt confident they could extrapolate from those two points to make the prediction.

“They have the choice there of saying they think there was insufficient data, but they saw it really clearly and it didn’t continue out on that line [down leg], it hit the foot right in front of middle stump. We saw the impact on the toe before anyone else did, and we saw the impact on the toe with our four cameras, and our guys confirmed it with the HotSpot guys sitting with them. That’s where the projection was made, the line from the bounce to the foot, to the stumps.”

Taylor offered an open invitation to any sceptical commentators, officials or even umpires to visit the technology operators and see things for themselves – not unlike the process by which the BCCI recently approved the use of ball-tracking as part of the DRS, a system to be used in the just-begun Test series between India and England.

What surprises me is so many people can make a call straight away with just seeing the replay from the end-on view, when we’re going through four super slo-mo cameras and HotSpot,” Taylor said. “That was the process they went through. I fully respect the guys who spent their whole careers out in the middle, it’s an instinct they have and that umpires have.

We definitely don’t dismiss that and we take very seriously the views of those people. Our doors were open to all of the commentators to come down at lunchtime – we had people wait there because we thought someone might. We’ve also re-affirmed to the ICC and all the umpires as well that the door is always open, come on down and talk it through so we all learn from it.”

Technology operators have advocated for some time that either the third umpire or an ICC-accredited official sit alongside those working HotSpot, EagleEye/HawkEye or other devices to provide clearer lines of accountability.

“The issue for us is if we did this properly with a third umpire who was trained and there [with the technology operators], he could have made the call that my guys made,” he said. “That’s what we talk about – here’s all the information we’ve got, and you make a call whether you want us to project this on or not, because you’re an umpire.

“The argument we have about a third umpire or ICC-accredited person who sits with our guys, the third umpire sitting up in the box does not know what’s going on down in our room. Who’s talking, what we’re seeing, what we’re looking at, what we’re replaying and what our thought process is. We’ve always argued if we had a fully qualified person from the ICC sitting in that room with everybody, we would go with that.”

Daniel Brettig is an assistant editor at ESPNcricinfo. @danbrettig………..© ESPN Sports Media Ltd.

A COMMENT; ” I  witnessed the wicket fall and also thought the ball may have missed the stumps. BUT I also felt that my eye could be inexpert and that some consultation with the technical wizards was required. For Michael Clarke and Company NOT to pursue this avenue is, in my view,a punishable offence — if not removal from  TV commentary for one year, at least a dressing down. After all, they rap players on the knuckles on and off themselves.  Apart from opinionated overconfidence, one has also to suspect home-side bias in both the conclusions conveyed on air and the tone of voice deployed. Michael Roberts

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Filed under Australia Cricket, Australian cricket, Daniel Brettig, DRS, performance, technology and cricket, television commentary, unusual people

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