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Slightly heavier than the traditional wooden bails, the LED zing bails are the newest and much-publicised induction into the game of cricket as a part of the International Cricket Council’s continuous efforts to introduce technology to make the sport more advanced and accurate. But everything comes at a price. But, more on that a bit later.
The high-tech stumps, marketed as ‘zings’ by an Australian firm, are expensive and hence precious. They are arguably the most advanced technological invention in modern day cricket, a visual delight for bowlers and spectators like. The wickets have LEDs that flicker on the slightest impact. The bails were first used in the Big Bash tournament last year and were expected to be used in the Indian Premier League, but the ICC seems to be one step ahead of the BCCI when it comes to implementing the latest technologies. For cricket fans around the globe, it is a fascinating sight to see the bails, which are powered by low-voltage batteries, light up the moment they are displaced from the stumps, meanwhile sending a radio signal to the stumps which also glow red.
The stumps are made of composite plastic and have sensors which are connected to a microprocessor. The bails themselves contain a sensor, that can determine within one-thousandth of a second, when a wicket is hit. Once the bails are dislodged, a radio signal is sent to the stumps, which also flash bright red light. The split-second reaction of the bails and stumps can help the on-field umpires come to a conclusion regarding tricky dismissals such as stumpings and run-outs.
But much like the highly controversial Decision Review System (DRS), the LED zing bails have also come across its fair share of controversies. Most notably, in the match between Sydney Thunders and Melbourne Stars, Melbourne’s two most experienced campaigners Brad Hodge and David Hussey were at the crease when Hodge slammed a Tillakaratne Dilshan delivery straight down the wicket, but Dilshan reacted sharply to dislodge the bails – the rules state that a batsman is dismissed if the bails are dislodged. But to everyone’s surprise, the LED ‘zings’ flashed and settled back onto the stumps. David Hussey was declared not out, much to Ricky Ponting‘s disbelief in the commentary box.
“Although the other day my heart was in the mouth when Malinga got those yorkers going against India,” Zings inventor Bronte Eckermann confesses that although his zing bails have never failed him or never been broken, he still gets nervous standing next to the boundary rope.
Gone are the days though when cricketers used to walk off the field with wickets and bails as souvenirs. Each bail costs a whopping 40,000$ and Eckermann insists that it would be too expensive to allow the players to take the bails for their collection. “I will chase the players and get the stumps and bails back if they try to get away with them,” Eckermann sees the funny side of things.