Pakistan cricket team told to stop wearing smartwatches by anti-corruption officials

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Pakistan's cricket team has been ordered to stop wearing smartwatches during play in order to avoid allegations of match fixing.

According to bowler Hasan Ali, the International Cricket Council's (ICC) anti-corruption team met with the team after the opening day of the first test against England at Lord's, warning players against wearing watches capable of transmitting text or voice messages.

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Both Asad Shafiq and Babar Azam were spotted wearing devices during play, though there was no suggestion of any wrongdoing by the pair, and it wasn't established if the wearables were connected to a phone or working from an LTE connection.

"I didn't know who was wearing them, but, yes, the ICC anti-corruption officer came to speak to us and they told us this is not allowed. Next time, nobody will wear them," Hasan was quoted after the day's play.

Currently, the ICC ruling states that players are forbidden from carrying communication devices to the field. Teams are asked to submit personal devices to officials before the game, with devices then locked away and handed over to the players shortly after the conclusion of each day's play.

As the image above shows, the Apple Watch was the smartwatch of choice for at least one of the players. However, as we say, the specifics regarding which model have not been confirmed.

"Apple Watches in any way connected to a phone or Wi-Fi, or in any way capable of receiving comms such as messages, are not allowed. In effect, it is considered a phone unless 'disabled' and just a watch," an ICC spokesman later told ESPNcricinfo.

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The only Apple Watch variant capable of communicating independently from a smartphone, of course, is the LTE version of the Series 3, with previous generations (and the non-LTE model of the Series 3) relying on a Bluetooth connection to a phone in order to pull in the likes of texts and calls.

With no evidence of wrongdoing, and also no indication of a red dot on the Digital Crown of the Watch, which would denote the LTE model, it's likely this episode is chalked up to a misunderstanding by the players.

The ban is reminiscent of the recent MLB controversy surrounding smartwatches and pitching signals, and it also means that any potential communication between cricket players and the dressing room will now have to take place the old fashioned way - by asking for a change of gloves or skipping off the field for a comfort break.

Pakistan cricket team told to stop wearing smartwatches by anti-corruption officials

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Conor Allison


Conor moved to Wareable Media Group in 2017, initially covering all the latest developments in smartwatches, fitness trackers, and VR. He made a name for himself writing about trying out translation earbuds on a first date and cycling with a wearable airbag, as well as covering the industry’s latest releases.

Following a stint as Reviews Editor at Pocket-lint, Conor returned to Wareable Media Group in 2022 as Editor-at-Large. Conor has become a wearables expert, and helps people get more from their wearable tech, via Wareable's considerable how-to-based guides. 

He has also contributed to British GQ, Wired, Metro, The Independent, and The Mirror. 

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