Hasan Ali has confirmed the ICC’s anti-corruption officers have told Pakistan’s players that they will not be allowed to wear their smartwatches on the field after a couple were seen wearing them on day one of the first Test at Lord’s.
There is no accusation of wrong-doing, but Apple watches are able to send and receive information, which mean they fall into a grey area within the ICC’s playing regulations. Those regulations do state that the technology to send and receive information must be disabled, though the watches themselves are not strictly prohibited: “Communication devices are prohibited within the PMOA [player and match official area], barring specific exceptions. Without exception, no player shall be in possession of, or use a communication device (such as a mobile phone or a device which is connected to the internet), while in the PMOA.”
Players and officials must give their phones to anti-corruption officials at the start of each day to be locked away. They are then returned at the end of play.
The story, originally reported on ESPNcricinfo, was put to Ali during his post-match press conference, which he confirmed. “The ACSU officer came to speak to us and told us it’s not allowed to wear them so we won’t be wearing them,” Hasan Ali said after the day’s play.” The ICC do have the power to confiscate these devices and analyse what activity, if any, there has been.
This is not the first instance that smartwatches have caused a stir in a sporting context. In September 2017, the Boston Red Sox were fined for using an Apple watch to steal catchers’ signs from the New York Yankees during a Major League Baseball match a month earlier. Catchers use signs to tell the pitcher what ball to deliver to the batter, who cannot see these signs as the catcher is behind them.
In this instance, a Red Sox trainer was found to have used his Apple Watch to get messages from the team’s video room about upcoming pitches. Those messages were relayed to the dugout and then signalled to teammates on the field.
While sign-stealing in baseball is as old as the game itself, it was the use of technology that saw the Red Sox fall foul of the rules.
Asad Shafiq, who wore the watch on Thursday, had said in a pre-series interview with the commentator Ramiz Raja that players use the watch to track their daily exertions, and that they burn “around 3000 calories” on a regular day of Test cricket.
“We definitely get an idea [of fitness measures],” Shafiq said. “If you wear it the whole day you get an idea, you get the results of your workout in front of you, and you can calculate your targets for the next day.”