From Riled to Filed – Sporting Inventor Makes Call on No-Ball Determinations
Former cricketer Peter George was spurred into finding a more instantaneous technological solution for bowler’s front foot no-ball determinations after feeling that reliance upon TV replays detracted from enjoyment of the game for both players and spectators.
In addition to his strong cricketing background, previously playing at Australian State level as well as in one test, Peter had also studied mechanical engineering and so was well placed to find a solution to the uncertainties surrounding no-ball determinations. Peter’s idea was to attach to the rear of the bowler’s front foot shoe a lightweight device incorporating an impact detecting accelerometer and an ultrasonic transmitter which enable an array of ultrasonic detectors to determine the position of the bowler’s shoe heel from the front foot impact. Together with his wife and business partner Suzy, who has a background in product development and commercialisation, Peter established the business Sportech Industries Pty Ltd and set about the multi-faceted journey of bringing the idea to fruition and chose Pipers for getting patent protection.
There are three criteria that must be satisfied in the bowler’s final delivery stride in order to not be found to have bowled a no-ball. In the final delivery stride a bowler must not put the back foot on or over the return crease, must not place a foot beyond the centreline and must have at least part of the delivery foot behind the popping crease. The vast majority of no-ball determinations involve the popping crease criterion, but Peter’s system also works for the other criteria if the device is also attached to the rear shoe. As shown the popping crease (205) is the line forward of and parallel with the return crease line (204). As further shown a popping crease no-ball occurs in situations 1D and 1E, but not in 1A – 1C.
The system can determine whether the front foot impact is made by the heel or toe-ball end of the foot and take that into account when determining the three-dimensional position of the heel. The system can also take into account differences in the speed of the ultrasonic transmissions caused by differences in temperature and further can take into account any Doppler effect caused by the speed at which the foot is moving.
The system can also be used to get detailed information about the magnitude and direction of forces on the front foot at impact, which can be used to refine technique so as to reduce the chance of injury.
In addition to the option of being audibly notified of a no ball the umpire would have a hand-held device which can display a representation of the position of the front foot in relation to the popping crease and can show the number of balls and no balls bowled in an over. The technology has been trialled by high ranking umpires, who are supportive of the idea as it allows them to focus on what happens at the batter’s end of the wicket.
With appropriate modifications the system is also useful in other sports, such as detecting whether a hand is on the ball before or after it crosses the goal line in Australian Rules or rugby.
Further details about the technology can be found in the Australian patent application and on their website www.mycallnoball.com.