We Got A Tour Of The Incredible TV Technology For The Ashes -- And HotSpot Reveals The Batsman Who Middles It Most


Today, Australia is playing for The Ashes, running out onto the WACA with a commanding 2-0 lead in the best of five classic series.

Last week, I was part of a group of mates lucky enough to score tickets to a couple of days’ Ashes play at Adelaide Oval, which was great for a number of reasons.

We experienced the new $535 million Adelaide Oval.

We were there on days two and three of an amazing Ashes Test match. (Clarke, Haddin centuries: check. Johnson destroying Poms: check.)

And, courtesy of a friend who works for Nine, we were given a private tour of the $30m broadcast semi-trailer parked beneath the Bradman Stand.

Naturally, we were most excited about checking out HotSpot – the technology which has caused cricket fans so much grief in the past 12 months due to its critical role in Decision Review Systems. More importantly, we wanted to know which batsman had the keenest eye. Because if anyone would know, it would be these guys.

The answer’s in the slide deck that follows, which is worth a look because there’s a lot more going on down there – replays, ball tracking, helping Brett Lee get his words right. Even Photoshopping (sort of).

And there’s a few things that just have to be said about Adelaide.

First, a couple of things about Adelaide.

There's a crazy amount of cranes at work.

It feels like the entire CBD is under construction.

Holden may have closed down, but you can't walk a block without being detoured along safety fencing or under scaffolding.

Adelaide Oval's redevelopment includes a nifty footbridge approach.

Although it bottlenecked on exit, badly, for 35,000 fans trying to get home. And it will have to carry up to 55,000 for AFL blockbusters. Stadium authorities say it will be two metres wider by then.

The new stadium entrance soars impressively.

Massive-hand toting nitwit photobombers aside.

The payoff - nosebleed seats are actually vertigo-inducing.

A little, when you're watching punters make the long haul up.

A lot...

When you focus too long on the incredible span on the new Bradman Stand.

This isn't a cricket ground any more.

It's a classic AFL business model. The pavilions and picket fences are gone, but at least they kept the Hill and the scoreboard above it. (Which was in excellent form.)

And sauce is free!

Also, Adelaide loves Chiko Rolls and Cornjacks more than anywhere.

There's some confusion over how to properly use a toilet.


Our Channel Nine mole called us at midday.

Employed by Nine! For 20 minutes...

Down this ramp...

To somewhere underneath the Bradman Stand.

A couple of semi-trailers, some vans. Loads of cables.

I really wanted to grab one of these.

The first thing you noticed was the heat, possibly from the trucks. (I forgot to ask.)

More cables.

This bird's nest belonged to Sky.

Our tour started in the director's suite.

The replay selection screen.

All the replays are cut in another room and pile up here.

This is where all the replays are cut.

We like the sound of spending a day watching the same English wickets fall, over and over again. From different angles.

These people had an interesting job.

Our guy called this the 'iris room'. The dials change the exposure on the individual cameras for a variety of reasons, but mainly so the ground, crowd, sky, pitch and everything else appear the same across the whole coverage.

A closer look at those dials.

Cloud cover is the enemy. That's when the most fiddling has to be done.

Here it is. Hotspot.

The most controversial room in cricket. This is where the third umpire gets his vision from for making those tense Decision Review System (DRS) calls. We watched an over from Pom spinner Monty Panesar.

It's extremely sensitive.

Here you can see heat spots on Panesar's spinning finger and thumb, Stump Cam and the batsman's last hit. The guys here told us they can see when someone's been off for a toilet stop! (Without going into further detail.)

And they told us which batsman middles it more than anyone else...

This guy.

'By a mile' was one of their exact quotes.

This guy had his own van.

He's working on Avid Suite, described to us as 'like iMovie but 500 times more expensive.' He builds all those pretty cut scenes and closes with lots of slow-motion. Here he's working on a Dave Warner special.

Tour over. We headed back to find Australia smashing Old Blighty.

Our English friend was deep in his Sudoku. We reported him via the Adelaide Oval's SMS Anti-Social Behaviour line, but no one came and escorted him out.

One last look at that scoreboard before we headed to the pub.

It really is a magnificent scoreboard.

Where we found more struggles with toilets.

Adelaide - our new Favourite City.

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