THE GAA HAVE confirmed that Hawk-Eye technology is to be trialled, marking a major experiment in Gaelic games.
Tennis and cricket have been the pioneers of Hawk-Eye technology. In both sports it was used solely on television coverage before being introduced to the game itself so that umpires could be aided when it came to close decisions.
Both sports now have a system whereby players can challenge umpires’ decisions and the decision is referred to Hawk-Eye.
Before it’s wired into Croke Park, we take a close look at some high-profile examples of the technology in use.
Marat Safin vs Roger Federer
Wimbledon – 2009
The Grand Slam tournament at Wimbledon was one of the first to introduce Hawk-Eye technology.
Marat Safin was at the centre of one of the more bizarre challenges the All-England Club has witnessed when he challenged his own serve. His serve landed comfortably in, but Safin decided to challenge, having lost the point to Roger Federer’s powerful return. Much to Safin’s embarrassment, his decision to challenge was not only massively misguided, but also ridiculed by the crowd, his opponent and indeed the umpire.
India vs Sri Lanka, 2009
India’s batting maestro Sachin Tendulkar was on the wrong end of three poor umpiring decisions in the 2009 One Day International series versus Sri Lanka.
On three separate occasions, Tendulkar was given out by the umpire, even though replays using Hawk-Eye technology showed the decisions to be wrong.
As there was no appeal or referral system in place, Tendulkar had to walk. Had the technology been available to the umpire or the batsman, they would have seen that the decision was wrong and that Sachin should have been allowed to continue his innings.
Rafael Nadal vs Mikhail Youzhny
Rafael Nadal is not generally known for throwing tennis rackets or for displaying anger and petulance on the court, but his 2007 quarter-final match in Dubai against Mikhail Youzhny was different.
On set-point in the first set, both players chose to let Hawk-Eye rule and it proved to be a matter of micro-millimetres. The decision and the set went in favour of Youzhny, much to the disgust of Nadal. On such fine margins are matches won.
Monte Carlo Masters, 2009
In the semi-final of the 2009 Monte Carlo Masters versus Stanislas Wawrinka, Novak Djokovic questioned the umpire’s decision on two occasions in the second set.
Although neither decision was actually referred to the technology to make a final decision, Hawk-Eye replays confirmed that the decisions made by the umpire were in fact correct.
The example shows how the technology can be used as much to reassure players and fans on close decisions as it can be to get those decisions right in the first place.