VVS Laxman, Vaughan And Vaseline




The Nottingham against India and England test on Saturday afternoon, stirred a bizarre controversy with the introduction of the new technology used in modern cricket. VVS Laxman batting on 27 missed a delivery while facing James Anderson. The England players all went up together claiming a nick by Laxman to the keeper. The umpire at the bowling end, Asad Rauf took a long time and finally shook his head to say not out. England players were sure enough of a nick and they sought for a review. The third umpire Billy Bowden went over the replays of the ball passing the bat. He even viewed it using the new Hot Spot Technology which indicates the spot where the ball touches the bat. But that too didn’t indicate of any edge and Laxman was declared not out.

VVS Laxman, Vaughan and Vaseline

VVS Laxman, Vaughan and Vaseline

That was only the incident. The controversy really started when the commentators of Sky Sports, who were mostly former England players were convinced that Laxman was out as there was definitely a sound but the ‘Hot Spot’ didn’t prove the ball hitting the bat. They used the ‘snickometer’ to find out if there was a nick there or not and it showed few deviated lines to suggest that there was a contact between bat and ball. A huge discussion followed whether the ‘Hot Spot’ was of any use at all or not. It was clearly unable to detect faint edges.

This was fueled even more when Vaughan twitted later that Vaseline may have saved Laxman. It got the whole sports media back into work as there were several articles stating ways and technique how the ‘hot-spot’ can be reduced. Apparently the technology can detect the contact between two solid surfaces and if a smooth agent or gel is applied on the surface then it is difficult to make out the contact especially faint ones. All reports were suggesting that VVS Laxman’s bat had been tampered and there was something that not right. Some even went to the edge of questioning the true character of Laxman as a player.

Some of the former Indian players including Sunil Gavaskar and others reacted strongly upon this. Vaughan twitted back saying he didn’t accuse VVS Laxman of using Vaseline and anyways that there is no law against applying such things on bat unlike on the ball. Even Asad Rauf, who umpired the decision on field said he did have a feeling there was a nick but was sure there was no liquid on his bat. He even admitted that ‘Hot Spot’ does not show the faint edges and that is a flaw in the technology.

This actually does raise a serious question, “How does all these new technologies help cricket?”. The recent ban of the UDRS by the BCCI and now the controversy of new technologies being flawed have put the whole concept of introducing technology in cricket a serious pothole.  These technologies were supposed to benefit the game of cricket and make it fair for the players but it does not seem so.

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Anjan K Merkap

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