The third Test between India and Australia at the Sydney Cricket Ground saw a fresh DRS controversy when a fourth stump had surfaced on the screen when an LBW appeal against Steve Smith in the second innings had been reviewed by India.
Even though the decision didn’t really have an impact on the game, operators of the Decision Review System (DRS) came under fire and people on Twitter had hardly spared them. However, now Virtual Eye MD Ian Taylor accepted the gaffe and stated that they take full responsibility for that.
“We reported that immediately to the people we work with at the ICC because it was a mistake on our part — fortunately it did not affect the decision, the umpire was correct, but it should not have happened.
“We take full responsibility for that but the important thing was that the decision to stay with the umpires call was the correct one — the real ball track did show the ball missed,” Ian Taylor, the MD of Virtual Eye that operates DRS in Australia and New Zealand, told Cricbuzz.
Coming back to the incident, Ravichandran Ashwin, buoyed by his success against Smith in the first two Tests in Adelaide and Melbourne, appealed for an LBW in Sydney which the umpire ruled it as Not Out.
The Indians appealed for the wicket but the third umpire stayed with the on-field decision, but it was observed that a fourth stump mysteriously popped up on the screen. Taylor explains the mechanism and how that came to be.
“We tracked the ball normally in our tracking system and it showed it missing the stumps. For the DRS the next step is to play the ball track back, superimposed over the ‘end on’ broadcast TV camera when the 3rd umpire calls for it.
“At the start of play we calibrate the two TV cameras at each end of the pitch to ensure they are perfectly aligned when we play our ball track over the live camera. When we did that, before going to air, it was fine and the ball was clearly missing.
“Just before we were going to replay, the end-on camera lost focus for an instant and when that happens it loses its calibration and we have to recalibrate. It happens a few times during the day but this was the first time it had ever happened between the time we tracked the ball and the time we had to replay it.”
Taylor calls it a human error on their part
Taylor stated that their operators instantly recalibrated the alignment of the camera and replayed the video with the track on it. However, immediately, he understood that the calibration wasn’t complete thus the mess-up couldn’t be corrected immediately.
However, the Kiwi man was of the opinion that it was an error, nonetheless, but one that didn’t have any regulation on the eventual decision.
“Our operator went through the recalibration program to realign the camera — he thought he had successfully done that but as soon as he replayed the video with the track on it, he realized that it hadn’t recalibrated correctly because the ball was now clipping the stump rather than missing it.
“It was human error on our part. Fortunately, the error was within the ‘umpires call’ margin so the result stood — as it should have because the ball in our track was missing the stumps. It is perhaps a good example of why there is an umpire’s call margin — it is for occasions when the technology might make a mistake.
“This time it wasn’t technology — it was a human error that we take responsibility for. To put that in context — on any given Test we track over 2,000 balls without an issue.”
“There is a virtual 3D pitch that is usually perfectly aligned with the real pitch. Then the calibration went out, which meant the two worlds were no longer aligned properly, so you could see that the virtual stumps were no longer matching the real stumps.
“So, to summarise, there are three virtual stumps in our tracking model that you never see because they are aligned perfectly with the real ones. On this occasion, because we lost the calibration, you could see them separately.”