Cricket Scoreboard is a Big Win for Novice Hackers

The game of cricket boggles most Americans in the same way our football perplexes the rest of the world. We won’t even pretend to understand what a “wicket” or an “over” is, but apparently it’s important enough to keep track of that so an English cricket club decided to build their own electronic scoreboard for their – pitch? Field? Help us out here.

This scoreboard build was undertaken by what team member [Ian] refers to as some “middle-aged blokes from Gloucestershire” with no previous electronics experience. That’s tough enough to deal with, but add to it virtually no budget, a huge physical size for the board, exposure to the elements, and a publicly visible project where failure would be embarrassingly obvious, and this was indeed an intimidating project to even consider. Yet despite the handicaps, they came up with a great rig, with a laser-cut acrylic cover for a professional look. A Raspberry Pi runs the LED segments and allows WiFi connections from a laptop or phone in the stands. They’ve even recently upgraded to solar power for the system.

And we’ll toot our own horn here, since this build was inspired at least in part by a Hackaday post. The builders have a long list of other links that inspired or instructed them, and we think that says something powerful about the hacker community that we’ve all been building – a group with no previous experience manages a major build with the guidance of seasoned hackers. That’s something to feel good about.

14 thoughts on “Cricket Scoreboard is a Big Win for Novice Hackers

    1. I believe that is one day cricket. I had some American cousins over many years ago and I was watching a test match. They asked how long the game takes, I said “5 days and it looks like it’ll be a draw”.
      They exploded :) LoL

      1. Test cricket is essentially endurance cricket.

        It’s up to 5 days of torture, having a hard leather ball thrown at you at >90mph bounce unpredictably off cracked hard dirt and compressed grass, with the expectation that you will read the bounce and connect with the bat, trading caution (where you will eventually make a mistake anyway, and risk insufficient points to win) against risk (it’s easier to make points hitting into the air, but you can’t be caught if it rolls on the ground) and to make matters worse, you’ll have to do a series of 12-yard sprints to earn most of your points

        It’s like being a nominated hitter, but it’s one-strike and you’re out, and every time you reach second base you face the ball again, and there’s no home runs.

        And once that’s over, you’ll be standing in the weather for hours at a time, expected to use absolute concentration and supreme athleticism to be able to catch the aforementioned ball – usually with your bare hands – and throw it 50+ yards back to the centre of the field as fast as you can to restrict the other team’s points.

        And if you’re unlucky enough to be a “speed bowler” you’ll be expected to sprint in, 50-odd yards, releasing a ball from precisely the right spot, with a restricted technique (over arm with straight elbow) to a point on the pitch (10 yards away) that is precise enough to force a play with enough variation in bounce, spin, swing (curve-balls at 90mph) reverse-swing (like swing, but in the opposite direction and with far stranger aerodynamics) ensuring there is enough rotational momentum to ensure the ball maintains it’s orientation precisely until the moment of impact.

        And the be expected _not_ to duck, but instead catch the ball if the batsman charges towards you and hits it directly at your head (again without gloves)

        And the only way to win, is to do all of this, twice. Take too long, you lose. Fails to get everyone on the other side out, twice, and you lose. Don’t get enough points, lose. Get enough points but not enough outs, lose.

        Get heavily rained on, you lose.

        Lose concentration at any point in those 5 days of play, and the game may be over. Put in a supreme physical and mental effort, and you may claw back a victory.

        Sure, they have regularly scheduled drink and meal breaks. So does Le Mans, F1, Football (that’s why they have halves, except for real (Aussie) football which has quarters ), the Tour de France, the Dakar rally, and any endurance event you wish to think of.

        Don’t get me wrong; on TV it can be boring. TV commentators are also often inferior to their radio counterparts.

        But try sitting in the crowd on December 26th at the MCG in Melbourne, with 90,000 people screaming at you, retiring to the bar for a quick pint with eyes glued to the screens in case you miss that one ball that makes the difference, drinking in the sun, atmosphere and contest, appreciating the subtleties of field placement (there’s such a large field that you can’t cover every angle all the time) and the interpersonal contest of bowlers (pitchers) and batsmen as ball by ball mental and physical fortitude is put to the test, well…

        That’s cricket.

        (Some cricketing terms and concepts have been changed or simplified to make it easier for others to understand; to wit, the guy bowls the ball and is a bowler, there are pacemen who bowl fast and spinners who use a seperate technique; there are medium pacemen who are rarely used in international games; there are wicketkeepers who do get gloves; and myriad other subtleties which are irrelevant to the basic appreciation of the game)

  1. In a shared culture of video games, computer games, board games, and multiple 24h sports networks on TV, the ‘we don’t understand each other’s sports’ trope is a bit lame I would think.

  2. Cricket is a great game but as Dan Moloney pointed out in the article “a group with no previous experience manages a major build with the guidance of seasoned hackers. That’s something to feel good about.” Indeed it is, and it is an astonishing example of the power and outreach of the hacker community.

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