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How Does a Snickometer Work?

Has the game of cricket been an interest of yours or just a passive attraction? If this sport has intrigued you, we think you should be even more fascinated by the Snickometer and how it works. This post is here to answer the question “How Does a Snickometer Work”.

What Even is a Snickometer?

Whether you’re a sports enthusiast or not, it is always valuable to understand the gears that work behind the scenes to ensure a smooth-running event. A snick-o-meter is an instrument used in cricket to determine whether the ball edged the bat (a special equipment used to hit the ball), for a potential dismissal such as a catch (a situation where the ball is caught by the fielder or bowler before it hits the ground) or leg before wicket. It does this by sensing forms of sound frequencies and selecting from their ranges to make more justified decisions regarding certain outcomes. This is just How Does a Snickometer Work? 

Let’s Talk Cricket

Cricket is a sport that has been dated to be in play for centuries back. As early as the 13th century, it was classified as a form of entertainment, although with less sophisticated attributes such as the substitution of the bat with tree stumps or farm animal pens as the wicket. A wicket is typically made by constructing a small “gate” where the ball is bowled, using three wooden stumps topped by two crosspieces known as bails.

There are two teams in a competition, each team consisting of 11 players. Two of the players were the bowler and wicketkeeper. A bowler is a player who delivers the ball to the batsman. A wicketkeeper is a player who stands behind the wicket to catch the ball. The field has an oval shape and is different from the rectangular pitch situated in the middle of the field. Two sets of three sticks (wickets) are placed in the ground at each end of the pitch and essentially serve as the “goal posts”.

GamePlay in Cricket

In cricket, the two teams participate by taking turns to either bat or bowl. During the game, the batting team makes innings when the players can score a run (a form of goal in cricket). This is done by hitting the ball around the field as many times as possible. While the batting team tries to score, the opposing team must attempt to get players (the batsmen) out by bowling the ball overarm at the wicket stumps, or by catching the ball. 

The game may have originated in England but is now played in countries throughout the world. Especially in Australia, India, Pakistan, the West Indies, and the British Isles. 

Although it could appear as a simple sport, there are various rules and principles put in place to guide the participants to fair play. This includes the snickometer which we could refer to as an analog umpire. Now let’s talk more about How Does a Snickometer Work?

History of the Snickometer

It was invented in the 1990s by an English computer scientist named Allan Plaskett.  This system uses a filtering mechanism to classify different sound frequencies. It filters background noise from cheering crowds, wind, etc. It also amplifies the sound signals that arise from contact with the ball with the bat or any other part of the player’s body.  There are parts of the Snickometer that govern its operation and are as follows:

  • The Microphone: This is a small device that is sensitive to sound and is used to detect frequencies.
  • Oscilloscope:  It is connected to the microphone and these frequencies are then transferred to an oscilloscope. This is a device that measures and analyzes the electric signals, then converts them into a graphical format in real time.
  • Resonance filter: It is used to filter desirable frequencies i.e., the ball hitting the bat, which is then plotted on a graph. This is plotted in the form of sound waves. 

The graph will show any quick heightened change in frequency occurring from contact with the player’s bat and the ball; a spike, a snick. Source: Wikipedia


It can also determine sounds like the ball hitting the batsman’s gloves by detecting the severity of the sharpness of the frequency signal. More advanced systems are equipped with a visual apparatus. This shows a frame-by-frame video replay of the ball passing the bat in the case of a catch. The microphone is usually mounted on one of the stumps of the wicket. Source: Researchgate

The Snickometer employs a combination of technologies that helps the umpire with better decision-making. While it has its limitations, such as inaccuracy in measurements due to error, it has become an integral part of cricket tournaments. It aids a more technical experience for the viewers, players, and sports crew.

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