Ashes 2013-14: Hot Spot technology will not be used

Usman Khawaja’s dismissal in the Old Trafford Test led Cricket Australia seek an explanation from the ICC © Getty Images

Oct 9, 2013

The controversial Hot Spot technology that assists in the Decision Review System (DRS) will not be used for the return Ashes series in Australia later this year.

The Hot Spot technology uses heat readings to analyse whether there was a contact between the ball and the bat or the pads.

The Australian inventor of the technology, Warren Brennan confirmed to the Sydney Morning Herald that the technology will not be used in the upcoming five-match Test series.

Brennan said, ”It’s their decision and that’s what’s been communicated to us. As far as I’m concerned, it is final. We’re just moving on with things. Channel Nine have got a new deal with Cricket Australia which I know has cost them a lot more money. I gather there had to be some restructuring of costs.”

With the Hot Spot technology gone, the other ball-tracking components such as Eagle Eye, audio evidences through the stump microphones and slow motion replays are the tools left for the third umpires. The technology came under criticism during the Ashes 2013 which England won by 3-0. While the umpires made many mistakes, Hot Spot failed to record fine edges resulting in arguable verdicts.

The dismissal of Usman Khawaja during the fourth Test at Old Trafford led Cricket Australia chief executive officer James Sutherland to seek clarification from the International Cricket Council (ICC).

Brennan, the owner of BBG Sports which supplies the Hot Spot technology had in August called for a ban on protective substance being used on edges of bat which can prevent the technology from detecting edges.
Brennan’s comments come in the wake of Channel Nine’s allegations of Kevin Pietersen’s edge going unnoticed on Hot Spot due to silicone tape.

“The majority of bats had some form of protective coating… strangely enough; this protective coating would cover only half the edge of the bat,” Brennan was quoted as saying by The Guardian.

While England and Wales Cricket Board (ECB) has demanded an apology from Channel Nine, the latter refused to relent. The technology was originally bought and adopted by the Channel and later adapted by BBG Sports.

When the allegations of Pietersen using the silicone tape surfaced, ICC’s general manager of cricket Geoff Allardice cut short a holiday and met England and Australia players to restore their confidence in the technology.

The company charges $10,000 a day for the four-camera system that Nine used, and the amount sums up to $250,000 for the Test series. The report in Sydney Morning Herald said costing could be a key issue with the broadcaster.

Brennan said, “I don’t have a beef with Channel Nine. The disappointing thing for us is that Cricket Australia didn’t engage at all with us to try and come on board and help with this situation. They just said, ‘No, it’s got nothing to do with us. It’s Channel Nine’s responsibility’.”

“What’s disappointing is we work in four countries at the moment — well, until recently. Cricket Australia is the only body that doesn’t contribute to our costs for the DRS components. New Zealand contribute directly to us, the ECB [England and Wales Cricket Board] contribute and also South Africa. My only beef is with Cricket Australia because we tried to engage with them several weeks ago and they refused. We need to continue to invest and improve the product so that everybody thinks it’s getting better. If bodies like Cricket Australia won’t come on board and contribute to that, there’s not really any point in us continuing,” he added.

Talking about the silicone tape incident, Brennan admitted it could have been handled better.  He said, ”The point that I was trying to make was that it does significantly affect us. The testing that we’ve done, and I haven’t released that testing yet, is that when the coatings are on … it does affect the Hot Spot signature.”

A spokesman from Cricket Australia said, “We don’t think it’s appropriate to comment on discussions between Nine and one of its partners.”