After a dream start to their much-anticipated tour of England as they routed the hosts for 184 and by stumps trimmed the trail to 134, Pakistan were caught unawares by the ICC protocols as two of their players were told by the match referees to not wear the Apple smart-watches they were seen sporting on the opening day of the first test at Lord's.
ICC regulations state that: "Communication devices are prohibited within the PMOA(Player and Match Officials Area), barring specific exceptions. Without exception, no player shall be in possession of, or use a communication device (such as a mobile phone or a device which is connected to the internet), while in the PMOA."
"The ACSU officer came to speak to us and told us it's not allowed to wear them so we won't be wearing them," Hasan Ali was reported saying after stumps.
It is common awareness that players are not allowed possession of mobile phones and other communication devices with internet access during the hours of the play. In light of this, it seems a pretty ordinary move on the behalf of the Pakistani cricketers to wear smart-watches during the course of the play, as the devices have full-fledged internet connectivity and other integrated communication methods that make them function as potential remotes to all the functionalities of a mobile phone.
"We definitely get an idea," Shafiq said referring to fitness measures in a pre-series interview.
"If you wear it the whole day you get an idea, you get the results of your workout in front of you, and you can calculate your targets for the next day."
Shafiq, though right, does not justify wearing of smartwatches on the field. The same purpose as stated by him can be achieved through devices specifically designated as fitness trackers with in-built pedometers and heart-rate sensors and don't have communication or transmission abilities and thus would be a much more permissible alternative to a smart-watch.
It has to be understood that the ICC is a rather pro-technology organization with regards to its involvement in the sport. Last year during the Champions Trophy in England, it even collaborated with Intel Inc. to fitting sensors inside bats of the players to get data on the various ways the ball connected with the bat and other impact measures. Their recent move, however, is one entirely driven by their incessant methods and practices in their motive of eliminating corruption from the sports.
As informed to ESPNcricinfo by ICC's anti-corruption officer at the match, Peter O'Shea, ICC reserves the right to confiscate the watches and even access the data on them in a bid to ensure that no malicious intent was achieved using the devices.