Snickometer and Hotspot use imbroglio

The controversial dismissal of T.M.Paine, Australia’s captain the second innings in the ongoing Test at MCG ( 28th Dec.2020) having been adjudged OUT – caught by wicket keeper off Jadeja after review by India using DRS, has stirred a  hornet’s nest.  

A fuming captain was cursing the technology while walking towards the pavilion. In fact he was benefited in the first innings in this Test  when he was adjudged Not out in a run out case in spite of a dubious line call when his bat was inches  short of the crease.  Now at this time Paine was at the receiving end.

 The Aussies have  been using this Snicko technology to effectively over-rule Hotspot since 2013-14. 

“If there’s a mark on Hot Spot he’ll go straight out. That’s his conclusive evidence straight away,” Geoff Allardice, the ICC’s head of cricket operations, had said at the time. “The only time Snicko will be used is if there’s no mark on Hot Spot.” 

In Time Paine’s case the use of Snickometer was used as there was no mark on Hotspot and the Snickometer did detect a sound after the ball passed on his bat’s backside.  The Indian captain immediately reviewed the decision of the straight umpire when he declared Not out as he was standing in first slip and he could hear the noise distinctly.  In fact more than the diminutive wicket keeper’s assertion, it was Rahane who was more confident to go for the DRS. 

There was also an earlier dismissal of Joe Burns, caught behind in this same innings, when he reviewed it, the Hotspot clearly showed there was a spike and so Snickometer was not used.

 Explaining the rationale behind giving out by the 3rd Umpire, Simon Taufel  for ICC Umpire said “If the ball is next to the bat while there is a spike, as the ball goes past the bat, or up to one frame past the bat, that is deemed to be conclusive evidence that the ball has hit the bat.”

Let’s see the working of Snicko and Hotspot.


The Snickometer (known as ‘snicko’ for short) was invented by English Computer Scientist, Allan Plaskett, in the mid-1990s. Snickometer technology was first used in 1999 by Channel 4 in the UK, before being used in India and Australia.

A very sensitive microphone embedded in one of the stumps and connected to an oscilloscope that displays sound waves which can pick up the sound when the ball nicks the bat.  This technology is only used to give TV audiences more information and to show if the ball did or did not actually hit the bat.  From the shape and timing of the sound wave, the viewer can determine whether the sound came from the bat hitting the ball or some other object like leg pad.  A short sharp sound is associated with the bat on the ball, while a bat hitting the pad or the ground produces a flatter sound wave. Unfortunately, at this stage the umpires do not get the benefit of having ‘ snick-o-’ through a RTS (real time strategy).A Snickometer works on a simple principle. Filter the ambient noise, and amplify the relevant signal. The ball hitting the bat produces a sound of a particular frequency. The stump microphone will pick up the sound of the ball hitting the bat. It first filters this sound which is of a particular frequency from all the ambient noise.


This technology was initially developed for military purposes founded by a French scientist Nicholas Bion for tracking tanks and jet fighter planes.  However, the technology has been adopted in sports,  notably in  cricket. It forms part of DRS authorised by ICC.  

The basic principle is the thermal wave remote sensing. When the ball or bat makes contact with the bat, pad, or the batsman, friction is generated. This friction causes heat, the temperature change is detected by the infrared imaging camera system. And that is how the contact zone is detected.  Any suspected snick or bat/pad event can be verified by examining the infrared image. This technology was first used in 2006 during the Ashes in Australia.

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