5 types of equipment used by umpires in cricket
In the 1900s, the only way you could stay abreast with the developments in a cricket match was by reading an English daily or by listening to the commentary on the radio.
One could listen to Richie Benaud, and Trevor Bailey regale us with their wit and eloquent description of the proceedings, leaving very little to the imagination!
Things have moved on since then and what a change it has been! In the Indian context, cricket has transformed from a sport to a religion. And now to a common language spoken by the entire country.
While the purists and the connoisseurs still squirm a little with the change in formats from the Test cricket, to the One Day Internationals and then to the Twenty 20s (T20), it has brought people from all walks of life closer to the game. T20 Cricket as a sport has received admiration from the men and women alike.
But with the increase in attention, there is also an increase in the detail of the coverage in sport. Today, there are several cameras on a cricket field. Hence Virat Kohli could pick his nose in the dressing room and still be caught on camera!
An international cricket match consumes more tech than any other sport. And as an avid viewer of the game, one could always wonder what the various fancy types of equipment that umpires carry with themselves are.
This article looks into these types of equipment one would see in the hands of an umpire.
#5 The Ball Gauge
The ball gauge is used to check the shape of the cricket ball
When the likes of Chris Gayle and Yuvraj Singh take charge, suddenly no boundary is large enough. But it also becomes a fitness test for the ball itself. There are cases when the ball loses shape because of the thrashing it receives. In these instances, the umpires use a ball gauge to check whether the ball is usable or not.
Typically the ball is made to pass through the ring, and if it does, it is considered usable, and if it doesn't, it gets replaced. The two rings are for balls of two different sizes. The 142 g and the 156 g variants.
#4 The Counter
As the name suggests, it is used to count the number of overs, and the balls bowled. There are various buttons on each side, and the umpire presses the button as soon as a ball is bowled to help him keep track.
However, this nifty little device underwent a sea of change. In the old days, the umpires used to keep six marbles in one hand, and as soon as a ball was bowled, they would transfer a marble to the other hand. When all the marbles of one hand would make their way to the other hand, the over would be considered complete. Having said that, there are also a lot of electronic counters available these days.
#3 The Light-o-meter
A light-o-meter is a device of great significance, especially when it comes to Test matches. The device measures the amount of light (in lumens). As per the ICC mandates, all light-o-meters need to be calibrated uniformly before being handed out to the umpires. The umpires usually check for the light in the middle of the field(generally the pitch) and the outfield.
Sometimes, when there is an absence of perfectly conducive lighting, the umpires, may, after a mutual discussion allow only spinners to continue bowling and stop fast bowlers until the light quality is considered safe for the same.
However, bad lighting has been a thorn in the flesh for a lot of teams during Test matches. There have been cases when the bowling team needs just one wicket on the last day to win the game, but the day ends because of bad light, and the match ends in a draw.
Majorly, the walkie-talkie is used by the on-field umpires to communicate with the third umpire and the match referee. This device has suddenly occupied a special significance with the Decision Review System(DRS).
A lot of umpires also use headphones and a microphone. This serves two functions.
1. It allows them to hear any nicks from the microphone attached to the stumps.
2. It allows for hands-free communication with the third umpire and the match referee.
#1 The Protective Shield
With attacking batsmen and big-hitting growing in popularity, umpire safety turned into a growing cause of concern. To combat this issue, Bruce Oxenford invented the protective shield.
It is made of transparent Perspex and majorly used to prevent injury to the umpire when batsmen like Gayle take charge and make it a point to decimate the bowler's morale and consequently, the umpire if he happens to be in the line of fire.
When Oxenford(in picture) was asked about it, this is what he said,
"My fellow umpire John Ward was on duty in India and had just been hit on the head and badly injured. We'd been talking for a long time about how we're in the firing line, and the ball is coming back harder and faster all the time".
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