Wednesday, March 02, 2011

The 2.5 Meter Rule

Some times it is hard to refrain from commenting about cricket when there is so much nonsense is going on. Things surrounding the Ian Bell not-out decision was proceeding normally until the whole 'adulteration' discussion began in the post match conference. After that the media, Dhoni and BCCI began to act in a kind of idiotic fashion that surpasses their normal idiotic levels. And if that happens the traditional Indian cricket supporters begin to display even greater amounts on idiocy.

To start with - the usage or public presentation of UDRS technology seems to be more erroneous than the actual technology itself. For example if a fielding team appeals for LBW and the umpire gives it not out and the fielding team refers the decision to UDRS - the first thing that is checked is if the bowler bowled a no-ball or not. If he had indeed bowled a no-ball, we don't even proceed to the next step of seeing whether the ball might have gone to hit the stumps or not. The review process is abandoned right then and there and the the batsman is given not out.

The 2.5 meter rule should ideally be used in a similar gated fashion. Before projecting the direction of the ball - the technology should essentially measure the distance of impact between ball/pad and the stumps. If it is beyond 2.5 meters - it should straight away abandon the referral process and either give 'not out' or at least revert to the on-field umpire's decision.

What the people behind UDRS claim is that the 'hawkeye projection' is more error prone or uncertain when the distance between impact and stumps is greater than 2.5 meters. You may ask why 2.5 and not 2.6 or 3.7? Thats just because you don't know enough. I don't know enough. Maybe the technology manufacturers did several million samples of statistical analysis and found out that until 2.5 meters they have 99% accuracy and at about 2.5 meters the accuracy dropped down to 70%. Who knows? And when you don't know enough the best thing to do is shut up and let the person who knows enough to make a decision. It seems in this case the manufacturers of the technology seem to think that their technology does not work beyond 2.5 meters. It could have been 3.1 but in this case it is not. It has to be some number and in the case of this technology it was 2.5 meters.

So what is really happening is that this technology is opting out of the decision making process if the impact is greater than 2.5 meters. This is a simple enough rule. This essentially means that the ability for technology to support referrals is only within the 2.5 meter scope.

The horrible thing they did in that match is present/use UDRS poorly. So poorly that they had UDRS project the path of the ball even when self-admittedly the projection was inaccurate and unreliable. They did not tell us before showing the visual that projections beyond 2.5 meters was unreliable. The disclaimer was written on the right-hand side in red font that "2.5 meters bla bla bla". Which no one read. Rightly so - because no one ever reads the fine print. The fact remains that - they shouldn't bother projecting/showing us stuff that has no reliability. Might as well tie a pen to a chicken's feet and show that as a 'projection' on the big screen and call it UDRS. Now what that colossal stupidity led to was - millions of people saw some random projection - came to believe that the ball was *certainly* going to hit the middle of the middle stump. And they all got angsty when Billy Bowden gave 'not out'. And Dhoni comes out and says that technology was "adultrated by Human intervention". When in reality "Adultrated Technology removed itself out of the equation and reverted back to human's best decision".


You could ask what should be done under circumstances when the ball hits the pad when the batsman is well in front.

When technology with all its power is unsure at 2.5 meters - I do not think on-field umpires can be sure either. And when there is doubt the batsman should be given not out. So the sensible thing to do is to fix a threshold (be it 2.5 or 2.6 whatever the technology decides as statistically favorable to making a more accurate decision) and set that as boundary condition. Impacts over 2.5 meters should be given 'not out' by both on-field and UDRS. You may ask how an umpire is to know whether the impact was 2.5 meters or more. Well - he uses the same guesstimate he uses to decide whether the ball pitched in-line or not. In cases where he gives out for impact greater than 2.5 meters, the batsman can appeal and get a 'not out' from UDRS. In cases where on-field umpire says not-out and fielding side is unsure - the fielding side can refer to UDRS and if the impact was less than 2.5 meters - UDRS will go on to project the path of the ball and deem it out or not out based on that.

But the key thing to do is not show the public stuff that does not have a high degree of certainty. Then the whole discussion gets biased by what people saw. Visual images can bias a person beyond reason. And it ridiculous that the ICC does not even know this basic fact of life.


Bala said...

The 2.5 Meter rule is a clear case where one does all statistics and does not trust them. Assume the ball pitches in line at 3 meters and raises only for 30 Cms. The height of the stump is 71cms. Does this mean the ball is going to go for a upswing and go over the stumps?? Another clear parameter which is being neglected here is the speed at which the ball is travelling. Even if the ball pitches less than 2.5 mts and does not have enough momentum when it hits the pads there is very little probability it may dislodge the bails. The ICC probably needs to relook at the software for some more tweaking..

Anonymous said...

"And it ridiculous that the ICC does not even know this basic fact of life"

Common sense is not so common!

SathyaRam said...

Dhoni is stupid and a poor loser. The umpire gave not out and the UDRS only said it cannot decide. So UDRS is not adulterated. You are right in saying that we should not show that ball hitting stumps. But again it is a clear case of rule and people particularly captains have to learn to shut up and ensure that they have a good bowling/fielding plan.

UDRS has worked well in Ashes and is not bad.

Anonymous said...

I hope BCCI is shutdown. They have killed and buried the game.


Alan Smithee said...

Big deal. You can borrow loans that you cannot repay and still cry you've been cheated. Fuck fine prints.

blackaccord said...

Fair point.. I think they need to draw a yellow imaginary line (like the one in NFL) at 2.5m and once the impact is beyond that no need to check anything else..

When i watched the dismissal in real time, I argued with ppl around me that it was not out as the batsman was way too forward.. Only when I watched UDRS was I convinced that it could be given out.. May be that's what Dhoni refers to as adulteration of the human mind..


Stone Crusher said...

You point is unique, but it my be hard to carry out.

Anonymous said...

Hey who wever u are (never mind who i am) sure u r the OLDEST FREAK on EARTH.SHUT UP UR STINKING MOUTH ABOUT A.R.RAHMAN, M.S.DHONI.


elegantstroke said...


your points are fair. Although I feel the one thing that the hawkeye technology does is, it tries to remove the subjectivity involved in the LBW decision making process (does the ball proceed towards hitting the stump?) and instead puts an objective rule.

Statistically speaking, this may be fine if there are a million samples which shows that the objective rule assigning is better than subjective human judgment. But the point is we don't know - and the technology inventors have a huge incentive to not publish this data (patent protection). If they do and it turns out otherwise, then the technology would not be put into use.

So I think it is safe to assume that a gray area is better left as a gray area, rather than declaring it black/white and stirring the controversy pot further, unless data proves otherwise.

Kaushik said...

"After that the media, Dhoni and BCCI began to act in a kind of idiotic fashion that surpasses their normal idiotic levels."

@hawkeye and SathyaRam: Dhoni was just proved right in the Ireland match - the DRS system is adulterated with human intervention. The DRS system must be completely revisited.

D.N.A. said...

ICC is really out thought itself -

hari said...

So the LBW can be taken out of the decision if a batsman decides to bat well out of the crease or keeps taking a long stride.

The rule will definitely benefit the taller batsmen.

I think either the UDRS should be dumped for now or the third umpire relies not on hawkeye but merely use the electronic tramlines and judge on the actual replay to make a decision.

I think if we allow the 2.5 metre rule strictly, soon enough the spinners or bowlers who don't generate enough pace to peg the batsmen on the back foot can forget about LBWs as every batsman will automatically stretch out on the front foot and be assured that 90% of the time he will not be out if it hits the pads. I can see this being a real negative tactic by batsmen in Test matches especially when trying to save games.

Anonymous said...

Agree with Koushik fully. Dhoni only said any system shouldn't be adulterated and after the Ireland match and the latest decision from ICC (on 2.5M/40 Cms, et al.) only adds to the confusion. I am sure no captain is sure about what is the rule. How can they be when ICC itself is not sure about the same?
It's very sad that some consider it fashionable to bash Dhoni and BCCI at every given opportunity

Sreekrishnan said...

I wasnt a fan of Cricket's Hawkeye view practically because it doesnt take the pitch conditions into play.

How many times have you see the HAwkeye projecting a ball's bounce when the impact on the pads was just after the pitch - on a flat wicket keeping the ball low? Does it take an account of the spin factor ?

Added to it - quite agreeably the 2.5m was confusing until i read your blog that its just a technology decision probably that came up with that number.

and agreed that they must not show the projection if it hasnt satisfied the conditions.

Anonymous said...

Any technology, umpire or God is good till one high-impact marginal decision goes against India or Tendulkar. Did anyone complain in the Ashes?