Last Wednesday,Saina Nehwal had three match points against Yui Hashimoto. When a smash by the Japanese one that Nehwal reckoned was was wide was called in,the Indians game fell apart and she ultimately lost. Something far worse occurred many years ago,when Taufik Hidayat stormed off the court after a call went against him early in a much hyped match against Lin Dan. Regardless of whether Nehwal or Hidayat were in the right,human error from line judges has always played a part in ties.
Yes,technology will play a big role in cleaning out the errors,but is the video replay and not Hawk-Eye (the trajectory tracker that many other sports employ) the way ahead for badminton? In a sport where the richest events fork out a prize money of $ 200,000 dollars (like in the Super Series),implementing a system that charges $ 60,000 per court makes little financial sense. The tried and tested rewind-and-check method that a video camera allows,hence,is the only way forward. And around each court,there will be eight of them.
From behind a playing courts advertising boards,every feather hit will be recorded by these peering lenses. And in the due case of a challenge,the match referee will then head to the video control section,where the footage will be viewed by the ultimate decision makers. The process is expected to take around 15 seconds per call.
But heres the catch. Even with the reduced costs it isnt yet certain how many courts will be covered by the technology. But even in a sport like tennis,which has far more financial clout,doesnt feature its line review system on every court. The Australian Open uses Hawk-Eye on five courts,the US Open and Wimbledon on four each. This technology will be tested at the Sudirman Cup in Malaysia in May.
The technology will then undergo a trial run at the Indonesia Super Series in June where players can make two challenges a match. The decision to incorporate the technology can only be made at a general body meeting,meaning it could be many months before there could be a alternative to the human element.
Jonathan is a senior reporter based in Delhi
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