MCC to launch ‘smart’ cricket ball and bring DRS to amateur game

Technology, Stoke-on-Trent and the need for more umpires, no wonder Chris brought this Daily Telegraph article to our attention.

Smartphone app will enable ball-tracking and ‘snicko’ technology in bid to combat declining numbers of umpires and controversial decisions

At £60 per ball they are not cheap, but not hugely expensive and the 89p for the Application per month will make it a nice earner for the developer. The fact the ball can be sent back and refurbished is good.

Coupled with more clubs live streaming the grassroots game is certainly emulating the elite game more and more.

Original Article

The MCC will roll out a ‘smart’ cricket ball next summer that will revolutionise umpiring in the amateur game with the use of an app.

The ‘smart’ ball is designed to solve cricket’s declining number of umpires and ensure it can be played fairly and within the MCC’s Spirit of the Game, following a series of violent clashes over controversial decisions.

A microchip inserted into the ‘U1’ ball will connect to an app on the umpire’s phone via Bluetooth and provide tracking data for lbw decisions similar to that in the professional game. A microphone within the ball will also provide a function similar to ‘snicko’ by detecting the sound of an edge if a catch has been taken.

The number of umpires available for club and village cricket has declined in recent seasons, often leaving players to officiate their own matches, and contentious decisions made by members of the opposition have led to a number of high-profile incidents. 

A brawl between two teams in Stoke-on-Trent last summer saw a metal bar reportedly used during a melee, with the incident sparked after one team accused the other of cheating due to the decisions made by a player standing in as umpire.

It is envisioned that reviews will be introduced into the amateur game and should a team wish to challenge a decision, the umpire will be able to consult their phone which will already have the ball tracking or edge data available. The product developers believe this system will be quicker than the Hawkeye technology used in the professional game. 

The ball-tracking data will be calibrated to each individual pitch played on before the start of the match and will become more accurate over time as the tracking data for each ground is built up.

The smart ball will also include location tracking data to ensure it cannot be lost, with any weight difference negligible to the balls currently used. 

The technology could also be used in the county game, which currently operates without a referral system, although there have been no talks for it to be implemented for the upcoming season. 

It is understood, however, that both Middlesex and Surrey will help trial the ball away from competitive matches.

The technology, which has been produced by The Batting Laboratory in conjunction with De Montfort University and AIX Capital for the MCC, will be available by August in its first iteration.

Before then, a training version of the ‘smart’ ball called the ‘P1’ will be available in March which will provide information such as bowling speed as well as degree of spin and swing for bowlers and coaches to monitor on their phones.

It is hoped that the data provided by the ball will help grow youth participation in cricket by adding an interactive element to training.

Both the ‘U1’ and ‘P1’ balls will be available for £59.99 while the cost of the app will be 86p per month, with clubs able to buy the ‘U1’ in batches of 16. The ‘U1’ ball will be a recyclable product that can be sent back to the company after use for it to be reconditioned to a new state.