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Zing thing: $40k glowing stumps to add glitter to ICC World T20

The high-tech stumps, marketed as ‘Zings’ by an Australian firm, are expensive and thus precious.

Written by Nihal Koshie | Mirpur |
Updated: March 20, 2014 4:09:01 pm
The wickets have LEDs that flicker on the slightest impact (Reuters) The wickets have LEDs that flicker on the slightest impact (Reuters)

At the World Twenty20 in Bangladesh, cricketers won’t be able to walk off the field with stumps and bails as souvenirs. 

That’s because the timber targets used in the tournament are special and not easily replaceable. Decked with LEDs that flicker on the slightest impact with the ball, the stumps are made of composite plastic and have sensors connected to a microprocessor.

The high-tech stumps, marketed as ‘Zings’ by an Australian firm, are expensive and thus precious.

“We have $40,000 worth of patented technology out on the field at each game and that is a lot of money. Each bail costs as much as an iPhone. We can’t afford to give them away to players at the end of a game,” says Zings inventor Bronte Eckermann.

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He is always stationed next to the boundary rope and gets restless towards the end of the game. “I will chase the players and get the stumps and bails back if they try to get away with them,” he adds with a hearty laugh.

Eckermann’s ‘glowing stumps’ might be making their debut at an ICC event but they have been used in T20 leagues in Australia, New Zealand and the West Indies. The one-time batsman who opened for Adelaide district says that despite the extensive use of his invention across the world, the ‘Zings’ have never failed him nor have they been broken. “Although the other day my heart was in the mouth when Malinga got those yorkers going against India,” he says. The ‘lighted stumps’ were used in both of India’s warm up games — the most-watched matches in the initial phase — and will be a regular feature in the second phase of the tournament.

Eureka moment

The cricket addict’s ‘eureka’ moment arrived when he was at home watching a game on television. “My daughter was playing with a ball that lit up when it was thrown. I was hoping to produce something that would add value to T20 cricket. I was also excited about LED technology,” recalls Eckermann as he talks about his invention.

Off the shelf or online, Eckermann’s bails cost just $25.

This ‘garden variety’ Zing doesn’t have sensors in the spigot that triggers lights within a millisecond of it coming off the grove on the stumps and caters to kids shopping for cricket equipment for backyard games.

“Widespread use of Zings will bring down the cost. Our main aim is to help umpires make better decisions when it comes to close run-outs or stumping. May be a few years down the line, I can allow the players to keep the bails and stumps after a final,” he says.

Until then, players will have to show restraint at the end of the game and Eckermann will continue to be restless off the field.

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