The reprieve of Dean Elgar, given out lbw in South Africa’s second innings in the third Test against India, has sparked significant debate.
The India team were in disbelief when the R Ashwin delivery was projected to be passing over the top of the stumps, despite hitting the Proteas opener below the knee roll. Umpire Marais Erasmus was similarly shocked, with Virat Kohli and others reacting angrily.
Sunil Gavaskar, commentating for SuperSport, expressed some surprise too. “Because it hit him on the knee roll, and he’s not a very tall man, I thought that at best, if it was not hitting the top of middle stump, it would be clipping it,” he said. “On the knee roll for someone who’s not very tall, nine times out of 10, even with a big stride, even on South African pitches, you would expect it to hit the stumps.”
However, CricViz data scientist James Norton-Brown took to Twitter to explain why the HawkEye projection of the Elgar ball wasn’t unusual, and in fact was in the lower half of Ashwin’s deliveries in the game, measured by bounce angle.
“The bounce angle of the overturned dismissal was the 47th most out of 91 deliveries Ashwin has bowled this match,” he explained. “He is bowling with a lot of top spin on a bouncy pitch but [there was] no more bounce than would be expected.”
“That ball was right on the length where the ball should be expected to go over the stumps,” he continued, with an accompanying graphic.
As you can see here that ball was right on the length where the ball should be expected to go over the stumps. pic.twitter.com/Eta59tHJXw
— James Norton-Brown (@JamesNB95) January 13, 2022
Live cricket director Hemant Buch pointed out that any accusations of bias were wide of the mark with HawkEye not operated by the broadcaster.
“While I can understand that everyone was a bit worked up about THAT lbw shout, once again, Hawkeye isn’t controlled by broadcasters,” he tweeted. “There is a possibility of human error (and I’m not suggesting there was definitely one last night) but the question of bias doesn’t arise”.
While I can understand that everyone was a bit worked up about THAT lbw shout, once again, Hawkeye isn’t controlled by broadcasters. There is a possibility of human error (and I’m not suggesting there was definitely one last night) but the question of bias doesn’t arise #SAvIND
— Hemant (@hemantbuch) January 14, 2022