Not many had been following the Sri Lanka England Series. Mike Selvey reports this from that series
All these — HawkEye, the snicko-meter — are an aid to the enjoyment of the television viewer, rather than definitive. However, it is the use of cameras to attempt to adjudicate on low catches, as occurred in Colombo, that is most disconcerting. Time and again this has been demonstrated to be fundamentally flawed. Some years ago, in Australia, for one experimental series it was decided to allow adjudication on low catches as a matter of course. The result was bedlam. The nature of camera angles - particularly at low level, with foreshortening in magnification, impinging shadow and general blurriness of image - made it seem as if every catch had been picked from the ground. It took no time for the players to twig that here was an escape clause and so even the most obviously squeaky clean low slip catch was treated as a felony, batsmen refused to leave the crease until it had been examined by the third umpire who by the very nature of the pictures that were offered to him had no option but to invoke the benefit of the doubt. Not one referral of the dozen or so made in the course of that series was upheld.
So contentious had the issue become, in fact, that the Australian broadcaster Channel Nine, never shy of opinions, took it upon itself to demonstrate, against its own interest, why this particular piece of televisual assistance should be used for nothing more than viewer delectation. To demonstrate, Tony Greig stood in a slip fielding position on the ground, back of his hand on the turf, with a ball in his palm: the resulting camera shots, those that would be used in determining such decisions, showed what some might term indisputable evidence that the ball was on the ground. Later, in England, Channel 4 went through precisely that same process, using Dermot Reeve, to precisely the same end.
Players, as a rule, demand the best decision-making possible, knowing how it can affect matches and careers. There is nothing wrong with this. But an assumption that the use of technology, rendering umpiring essentially redundant, is the panacea is just plain wrong. Sidebottom may have been given out erroneously from a thick inside edge in Kandy and, had a replay been used, would have been given not out. But overall where is the net advantage when a correct assessment by an umpire could be undone by flawed technology? In judging Pietersen out Dar, a very fine umpire with an uninterrupted view of the incident, almost certainly made the right call. For that his partner Harper and he were pilloried.
However, virtually every catch that is referred is turned down because of TV’s two dimensional shallow depth of field.
There has been a move to stop umpires from turning to the third umpire unless their view of the catch has been genuinely impaired.
This column has long resisted the use of technology in the decision making process. The main reasons are the many imperfections and inaccuracies; the camera's foreshortening of the image in two dimensions and the resulting danger of justice for some but not for others