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New Technology: The Lie Detector

This morning on the Today Show, Eddie Maguire (filling in for Jessica Rowe, while on maternity leave) announced the latest development from the Channel tech labs: The Lie Detector. Before elaborating on what it is, I have the inside story on how the idea was conceived.

Having read a recent dongles article on the spate of bogus caught behind decisions, Eddie gave me a call to find out if I had anything to add. I did. I told him a story about a social game I played in once. I was bowling my usual ordinary seamers and somehow the batsman got a nice big nick and the keeper took an easy catch. “How is that, sir” (rhetorical question). Here is the interesting bit. Sir didn’t immediately give the batsman out. In fact, it seemed he wasn’t going to pull the trigger. Eventually, up went the finger and sir explained that his hearing was shot and he had to work it out from the guilty look in the batsman’s eyes. Last Sunday, the umpire could well have given Mcmillan out on the basis of his guilty giggle.

I said, “Eddie, there is the solution. Those bloody batsmen know when they are out but Gillie and Brian are the only ones who will admit it. You need to put them on the stand, so to speak.” I left Eddie to it. He is “de man” after all.

In a sign to the whole world that Kerry Packer was not the only Channel 9 boss who can push the ICC around, Eddie has worked with cricket’s governing body to introduce a rule change, starting with the World Cup. All batsmen will have an earpiece. Channel 9 trialled this technology in the recent Twenty20 match. However, in this case, the batsmen will not be subjected to the imbecilic questions from the Channel 9 commentary team. When there is a caught behind appeal, the batsman will have two choices. He can walk or take the lie detector. If the batsman opts for the lie detector (by not walking) he will hear the pre-recorded voice or Eddie Maguire, sounding very much like God say, “Did you hit it, son?”. The batsman will grasp a bail in each hand and answer “yes” or “no” (Of course, he is going to answer “no” or he would have walked). The bails are equipped with the latest FBI lie detection technology (as seen on “Without and Trace”) and this will advise the 3rd umpire if the player is lying. The 3rd umpire will take that information and give the verdict on the big screen.

The Today Show ran an excerpt from a 60 Minutes program that will go to air shortly. In the piece, Mr Maguire, who is also taking a spot on 60 Minutes this year, is interviewing himself.

Mr Maguire: Eddie, tell us more about “Lie Detector”. Doesn’t the game already have enough inconclusive technology gimmicks? Is it really fool proof?”

Eddie: “I just want justice. This isn’t about ratings or my own ego. I think of the other night and the Hussey thing. England were denied a chance of their first victory over Australia of the tour. It makes me angry. You know how passionate I am about cricket. I think of that momentous win over Pakistan in Hobart. The truth is that the bng nicked one and it should have been a well earned victory for Pakistan. Looking even further back, think of poor old Billie the Kid McDermott supposedly gloving one from Walsh in Adelaide in 1993, and Australia losing the match, and the series by one run. The course of history will no longer be altered by incontinent umpires. I really feel that we have kicked a goal with this new development.”

Mr Maguire: “I think you mean incompetent”.

Eddie: “That’s what I said.”

Enough on Eddie. I will be interested to see who can fool the lie detector. I”d be betting the Mcmillan won’t – he couldn’t even keep a straight face. I wonder about the card players – those poker faced punters must be in with a show. I’m sure Eddie and the ICC are glad that Steve Waugh has retired. He’d be one I’d be betting that could fool the lie detector.

When you wish upon a star

When you wish upon a star (Washington And Harline, Disney, 1940), makes no difference who you are – batsmen from all around the world – if you belt the ball to the wicket keeper and stand your ground, your dreams may come true. Umpires, the silly season was December. This is January. A New Year. Some caught behinds are tricky but others are not. It started in the Sydney test. Warnie smacked one to Read from Panesar and was allowed to carve his way to 70. A few minutes later, Gillie hit the ground, missed the ball and was on his way. Friday night saw Hussey survive and sink the Poms. But Craig Macmillan’s good fortune on Sunday ranks with the best. This is how I saw it.

McGrath bowled it short and wide. Mcmillan’s eyes lit up and he cut ferociously and edged to Gilchrist. He didn’t feather it. He smashed it. Spontaneous and unbridled jubilation ensued. Mcmillan’s shoulders slumped, accompanied by a grimace of resignation, with eyes closed. He knew he was done and waited instructions from the umpire. But wait. Something was up – the Aussies’ tone had changed. One eye opened just enough to take an non optimistic, sideways peek at the umpire. Still not really believing it could be true, both eyes opened and Mcmillan started to take it all in. An involuntary, embarrassed snigger completed the miscarriage of justice. Well, not quite. Eighty-eight bonus runs completed the miscarriage of justice.

In the evening, Hussey once again survived two very confident caught behind appeals. In both cases, the umpire was correct in giving not out. The second occasion is worth mentioning. Australia had two runs to win. Mcmillan was bowling the last ball of his over to Hussey. One good hit and it was all over but if Hussey could be kept at that end, New Zealand still might win. Mcmillan bowled a quickish bouncer – Hussey had a swish and missed quite comfortably. In fact, it was unbelievable that the ball was not called wide. Hussey missed because he would have needed a ladder to hit the ball. The only reason the cheeky Kiwis appealed was to distract the umpire from the wide call. Even more unbelievable was Mcmillan having a go at Hussey. What a comedian!

On the big picture, Australia has shown itself to be vulnerable. The top order is the main area of concern and Hayden will have to prove his worth or be replaced. Gillie has a licence to hit and has always been hit or miss in one day cricket. He needs a dependable partner. It is true that the last two pitches, while holding no gremlins, have been rather sporting. On that subject, it seems ironic that in so many recent Test matches we have seen runways pretending to be pitches, and now in One Day cricket, we are seeing some pitches that offer serious encouragement for the bowlers. Not that I’m knocking it. In recent years I have become a victim of passive pitch paranoia, so I welcome some life.

Around the world, South Africa and Pakistan are involved in an excellent Test match. Scores are SA (124 & 331) v Pak (265 & 3/55). Pakistan need 136 more runs to win. South Africa have had a fairly successful summer, winning the One Day series and the Test series against India and they are one up in this Test series. However, they have been routed in Tests twice now. They were dismissed for 84 against India and now 124 against Pakistan. The “juice brothers”, Mohammad Asif and Shoaib Akhtar, have done the damage in this Test with a joint haul of 11 wickets for the match (even though Shoaib was unable to bowl in the 2nd dig).

India and the West Indies faced off in Nagpur in a high scoring affair. India (338) just held off the West Indies (8/324) with Chanderpaul hitting an unrewarded 149 not out. Also note a resurgent Ganguly being run out for 98, after opening the innings for India.

White Hot

As the we move on from the euphoria (if you are Australian) of the Ashes, to the One Day cricket menu, the Australian team is shaping up to be very, very hard to beat. I would go as far as to say that this team has the potential to be the best team Australia has ever fielded at a World Cup, and possibly ever. In a time of change for Australian cricket, many of the fans feel worried, uncertain, discombobulated even. But I think it is bloody exciting. Of course, the exits of Langer and Warne have had no effect on the one day team, and for McGrath, it is business as usual until the end of the World Cup.

The main opportunities have come from Martyn’s retirement and that unlucky man again, Shane Watson. Watson’s injury has already seen not one, but two Test players benefit this summer – Michael Clarke and then Symonds. It now seems that Watson’s injury has not only seen the rebirth of Hayden. And in the search for balance, Cameron White – “Bear” has been turned lose on the international cricket community. And what a launching it was – his Twenty20 debut had the critics in raptures, as did his stunning hitting in his first ODI innings of the summer.

What surprises me about Cameron White is that he is still but a youngster at 23 years old. He seems to have been around for ages (and this is his sixth season) and I thought he might be getting a bit long in the tooth! Many seasons ago, there was hope that White would replace Warne as the number one leg spinner. But I have heard over recent seasons that his batting has improved and his bowling fallen away. However, he has 131 first class wickets at 38.8, which is not that bad – it does give one reason to hope. And his batting is very noteworthy. He has hit two centuries in “county” Twenty20 including 141 not out.

What this one day side offers is a batting line up of seven top shelf one day batsmen. It is laden with powerful hitting and balanced by the class of Ponting and Hussey. That is not to diminish those players’ strike power – while not brutes like Symonds, Gilchrist and White, Ponting and Hussey can score as quickly as most. However, they do offer the stability of say, Bevan, without the sedative side effects. Here is the exciting part. From those seven batsmen, you get a wicket keeper and three bowlers, specifically Clarke, Symonds and White, from whom you can expect to get 10 – 20 overs. That leaves room for four strike bowlers. The appeal in this team composition is that it avoids the situation where you have four all rounders in the team and none of them are dominating with either bat or ball. I feel that in recent times, in any given match, Australian teams have tended to be weak with either the bat or ball, as selectors tried to find the correct balance. This team is potent with the bat and the ball.

The candidates for four bowling positions (in my preferred order) are:

Bracken
Lee
Hilfenhaus
Johnson
McGrath
Hogg
Clark

There are some useful batsmen amongst those bowlers. Perhaps it’s shocking that I am suggesting that McGrath should not be in the starting eleven. I won’t be upset if his is, but I’m ready to move on. No disrespect intended to Pigeon but let’s go with youth and form. It should be remembered that in One Day Cricket, McGrath offers nothing with the bat and in the field he is not getting any faster.

There has been some comment that the team is weak in spin and that this is a problem. I have a few comments on that:

1. It’s a one day match, not a Test match. You don’t necessarily need a spinner. All you need is 10-20 tidy overs out of the previously said trio.
2. Symonds and Clarke can bowl tidy spin. White’s economy so far is over seven per over and he should aim to improve.
3. If the pitch is expected to be spinner friendly, Hogg can come in for one of the quicks.

I’m not sure where that leaves poor old Watto. Perhaps you could argue he could come in for Hayden at the top of the order. Or possibly that Hussey could open and Watson come in down the order. That would further strengthen the bowling without really weakening the batting. I have no idea where Brad Hodge fits in – to me, that was a red herring from the selectors. But there it is, it’s only while Ricky is on his mid-season holiday. Now there is a concept!