Tim Paine’s first innings lbw verdict was shown to be correct by a narrow margin on HawkEye as well as the VirtualEye ball-tracking used by the umpires to make the decision.
While VirtualEye’s ball-tracking is used by the host broadcaster Fox Cricket, the rival Seven network has HawkEye ball-tracking in place for analytical use. Both technologies showed Paine was stuck in line to ensure it would not be “umpire’s call” and therefore not out, after Neil Wagner’s initial appeal was turned down.
Paine was visibly frustrated, but it appears that the decision was a case of fine margins rather than outright errors on the part of the technology or its operators. Ian Taylor, the chief executive of VirtualEye, had extended an invitation to Paine to watch the decision in detail, but Paine hadn’t yet accepted the offer.
“I did read this morning that I’ve got an invite, so I might take it up at some stage, but I’m not too interested,” Paine said after Australia’s 247-run win in the Boxing Day Test that helped seal the series with one Test to play. “It is what it is, sometimes you get a bit frustrated, today we might’ve got one that went our way. So that’s how it works.
“You’d hope it would be spot on, not trying to get it more precise. I think it would be nice across all Test matches to have the same technology in place for every Test in the Test Championship, we’ll see what happens.”
HawkEye, the technology that is also in place for the BBL, is the ball-tracker used by the majority of cricket-playing nations. Seven network, which uses VirtualEye, is the broadcaster of a majority of games in Australia. With no DRS available in the BBL, VirtualEye is the only ball-tracker on show in matches in Australia when the time comes for umpires to make decision and players to review them.
Paine, who has signed a deal with Seven to commentate on the BBL in the new year, said he was more likely to look closer at the technology when he begins that stint.
“It’s certainly got its good points, there’s just some ironing out at times to be done,” Paine said. “But that’s only my opinion, I know they’re trying to get it as precise as they’re possibly can, but I think as an aid to help the umpires get the correct decision I think its good. I’m actually doing a bit of commentary after the Test so I’ll have plenty of time to sneak in then maybe.”
On the final day of the MCG Test, the Australians were beneficiaries of another tight call when New Zealand captain Kane Williamson was given out lbw by Marais Erasmus. VirtualEye showed the delivery from James Pattinson would’ve just grazed leg stump, enough for the decision to be upheld.
“Obviously it’s not 100% accurate and I think they’re always looking to try and improve that,” Williamson said. “You’d like to think overall that the technology does increase the amount of right decisions, whether you feel like you’re unlucky or not, you pretty much have to look within and try and play it better and try and learn and just keep improving. That’s the focus for me, and you just need to move on.”