The first ball Virat Kohli faced in a tight and ultimately successful chase at SCG should have gone for four runs. Instead, the ball was called dead because it hit the spidercam on its way to the boundary. In the last Test that India had played at the SCG, Steven Smith dropped a sitter from KL Rahul because he was distracted by the spidercam. The ball might have even flicked the cable. India eventually won the fifth ODI, but who knows if Australia would have been held to a draw had Rahul not gone on to score a century in the Test last year?
MS Dhoni, India’s limited-overs captain, has called for balance when it comes to intruding the field of play for TV gimmicks. He has also spoken about other gimmicks that have mushroomed with the advent of Twenty20. “I am quite a traditional guy,” Dhoni said. “I have always felt that… anything that disturbs the game of cricket I don’t like it. It all started right from the T20 where people would be like, ‘Why don’t you wear a mic?’, ‘Why don’t you wear a camera?’
“I have always felt there is a need for balance. At the end of the day it is a spectator sport, people watching on television, but at the same time four runs can matter, especially when it is a close game. Those four runs can be crucial. Everyone gets penalised, why not have the same system for the spidercam? Say, ‘Okay if you get hit, 2000 dollars per hit.’ Let’s make it interesting.
“People [broadcasters] are striving for more. When you have got out and walking off, the cameraman goes right under your face. The same way the spidercam is right next to you. You have seen players, they are like, ‘What is happening?’ It makes a lot of noise. At the end of the day it is also about the spectators. If spectators are not there, cricket won’t be played. It is a mix and match; 2000 dollars per hit is a good option.”
During the Sydney Test last year, the camera was moved higher and away from the field of play rapidly after the incident. This time, though, the upper-cut from Kohli was not even a skier. Back then, a joint statement from Channel Nine and Cricket Australia said: “We have spoken about the matter involving spidercam and the dropped catch before lunch and it’s clear the ball did not hit the camera or its supporting wires. Captain Steve Smith was distracted by one of the wires in his eye line. Both CA and Nine will continue to work together on the use of spidercam in the broadcast coverage and will take on board any player feedback as necessary. As it stands, if any player has a concern about the placement of spidercam they can ask the umpires for it to be moved.”
Dhoni’s larger point about the intrusion into the players’ space might hold some resonance too, especially shoving cameras up their faces when they have just got out or doing interviews just after their dismissals. Such interviews were the centre of conversation when, earlier in the Australian summer, Chris Gayle infamously made a female reporter uncomfortable in an interview as soon as he had walked off the field.
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