What can football learn from cricket’s use of technology?

Team Udayavani, Feb 4, 2021, 10:20 AM IST

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The use of technology in sport is a discussion that sports fans can no longer escape. In football, there’s an ever-growing perception that video assistance is ruining the game, killing off all pre-existing passion. Of course, perceptions relating to technology are subjective. That said, it’s undoubtedly fair for football fans to voice their concerns about VAR (video assistance referee), particularly when cricket has seamlessly incorporated similar systems. So, what can football learn from cricket regarding on-field advancements and developments to the digital markets, such as sports betting?


The Bat-and-Ball game is leading by example regarding technology implementation

In recent times, cricket has become increasingly advanced, with some even suggesting that Big Data is now the sport’s 13th man. In 2017, the game took a significant step forward regarding performance analysis, as 27 players used bats with sensors. The intel-designed compute module was incorporated into some bats, and it measured elements including back-lift and impact angle, bat speed at impact, plane path, and much more.

During the mid-2010s, cricket was a declining sport, with participation figures dropping by 37,000 compared to the previous decade. However, technology has played a pivotal role in reinventing cricket. Over the last 20 years, the sport’s embraced developments such as Hawkeye, Hot Spot, and Snickometer. Each introduced in the early 21st century, the sport is now undoubtedly better off following their implementation.

The above developments, combined with the Decision Review System, has sought to enhance the reliability of decision-making processes in cricket. Unlike football, however, this use of video technology places a responsibility on the players. Before challenging a call, on-field teams have 15 seconds to decide on querying the umpire’s decision. In terms of the number of reviews available, Test cricket is limited to two unsuccessful calls per innings, while One Day Internationals and T20s allow for one. 

Furthermore, it’s not only on the field of play where technology has aided cricket’s growth. As evident from Royal Panda, where you can place sports bets online, forward-thinking developments have advanced cricket betting. Now, the platform’s markets show how in-play betting is at the forefront of the sport’s tech-driven approach to user immersion. For example, the real-time function enables bettors to wager on inning-specific opportunities, including the method behind the first dismissal of a match, in addition to total runs. Together with on-field observations, technology has reconnected spectators to more developed, action-packed version of cricket.

Should football take inspiration from cricket?

One of the primary complaints that football fans have with VAR relates to its speed. Currently, decisions are slow, and thus the impact on the flow of the game. Although cricket is naturally slower, especially in a Test format, limiting the time allowed to make challenges ensures that all rhythm isn’t lost. Moreover, football should consider a review-based approach, as then every action isn’t checked.

However, if football were to take one concept from cricket, it should be umpire’s call. Ultimately, if a decision checked by DRS appears inconclusive, the umpire’s decision remains. In turn, this ensures that the officials’ integrity isn’t undermined, and tight decisions aren’t awarded against the initial judgement despite a lack of clarity. Currently, the rule states that the on-field call stands in an LBW review if less than 25 per cent of the ball looks to be hitting the stumps.

However, the rule cost Australia in their recent series defeat to India. After an umpire’s call decision favoured Cheteshwar Pujara, Ian Chappell stated that he “never trusted DRS”. The Baggy Greens will be hoping that their fortunes change ahead of the highly-anticipated 2021/22 Ashes against England. Not only that, but the T20 Big Bash also gets underway soon, and each team will be hoping that DRS decisions don’t cost them the tournament

Cricket is the benchmark in modern-day sport 

Umpire’s call isn’t a flawless concept, but it relates more to the officials’ off-field perceptions and isn’t a reflection of the technology. Recent developments have been central in revitalising cricket and reigniting spectator interests, whereas VAR appears to be turning people away from football. Few can argue that the bat-and-ball sport isn’t the technological benchmark with its forward-thinking approach to decision-making and sports betting, and, on the whole, football is currently a fair way behind.

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