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CSN star McMorran is watching world game like a Hawk

BY Ian Callender

One Civil Service North player who could not take part in last week's AJG Challenge Cup final win over CIYMS was Christopher McMorran - but there was a very good reason.

McMorran, a student at Loughborough University studying sports management, is on a 12-month placement as Junior Systems Operator of Hawkeye, the ball-tracking system which is used in all televised matches these days to either back up or change the umpires' on-field decisions when players call for a review, usually following the fall of a wicket.

His job has already got him a front row seat at the last two Test matches and with a trip to India this winter for the series against England already confirmed in his schedule, it seems the perfect way to see the world and follow cricket.

So today, McMorran will be in the control van at Edgbaston for the crucial third Test between England and Pakistan, although he has been in Birmingham since Monday, with his team, setting up the equipment to ensure everything will work like clockwork over the next five days.

"It usually takes two days to prepare for a Test, one day for a one-day international and a morning is enough for a T20. There is quite a lot to do, such as calibrating the cameras," he explains.

"You take the crease and stump measurements to get the calibration lined up in our virtual world. You wouldn't think so, but every ground is different.

"The crease diameters vary from ground to ground and even the stumps can vary on how well they are pushed in!

"So the cameras have to be synchronised to ensure an accurate tracking of the ball.

"We work in the outside broadcast van and we have a lot of screens. There are two types of people, the ball tracker and the VRR, the Virtual Reality Replay, and they are in control of the outputs, plus the pitch maps (where the ball lands after pitching) and the wagon wheels (showing where a batsman has played his strokes).

"We work with the director who asks us to find stuff, or we tell him we have found stuff and ask if they want it. They say 'yes' or 'no' and whether it is ready for airing. So when you hear the third umpire (doing the reviews), he is talking to the director, but we hear all that so we know what to show."

McMorran's ability as a player - he made his debut for the Civil Service North 1st XI as a 14-year-old - probably helped him secure the glamour placement, although he wouldn't have known about it but for the help of a friend.

"I heard about it from Jamie Hunter, who I went to school with at Campbell College. He is doing a placement at Bath University and he told me to look out for it," he says.

"They offer it to uni students and it's a case of applying, getting interviewed and going through the process.

"My first match was the fourth ODI at the Oval against Sri Lanka last month. I didn't do a lot that day, basically just sitting and watching.

"Moving forward it's a rough schedule which can change all the time but I am doing T20 finals day (on August 20) and then the ODI series between England and Pakistan straight after.

"As well as the India-England series, there is some tennis planned. I'm not sure where, but I'm hearing it could be Russia or China. So, all good fun."

Back to the more humble surroundings of CSN. Although he was unable to play in this year's final, he was in the middle when the winning runs were hit two years ago in the victory over Waringstown, and made sure he was at Comber last Friday to support his team-mates.

"I would love to have been involved in the final. I have played a couple of games for the Seconds this year and whenever I'm home I will be involved," he adds.

"Once I have finished the placement - my year started at the end of June - I will have a couple of months to play.

"The club is in good shape and we are a good cup team which we have shown in the last few years, especially with that great performance against CIYMS."

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