India vs Australia: Spidercam Spins New Web of Controversy

Updated: 08 January 2015 19:50 IST

The use of technology in cricket has come under the scanner again as Spidercam at SCG blindsides Australia captain Steven Smith. But why should one incident spoil the fun of watching TV from some lovely angles?

India vs Australia: Spidercam Spins New Web of Controversy
It's a plane! It's a bird! No, it's Spidercam: A spidercam is seen over the Sydney Cricket Ground during the fourth and final Test between Australia and India. © AFP

Allergic to the use of Decision Review System in international cricket, the Indian cricket Board will probably a heave a sigh of relief that Lokesh Rahul was not on the wrong side of another technological marvel being used in the current India versus Australia Test series. The Spidercam, that provides a bird's eye view of the action in the middle, has now spun a new web of controversy. (Complete coverage of India's tour of Australia)

The use (or not use) of technology would have left the Indians with mixed feelings on day 3 of the Sydney Test on Thursday. While Rahul, who scored his maiden Test century at Sydney on Thursday, received a 'life' on 46 when Australian skipper Steven Smith dropped a skier, Ajinkya Rahane was given leg before wicket to a rising Shane Watson delivery that would have missed the bails by a good six inches. The absence of DRS meant Rahane could not ask for a review.

Australia coach Darren Lehmann said more thought needed to be given to the positioning of the "spidercam" TV camera after his Smith  spilled a key catch. Rahul and skipper Virat Kohli stitched a 141-run third wicket stand that pegged the Aussies back. Kohli is batting on 140. (Lokesh Rahul thanks Virat Kohliafter scoring a century)

The spidercam is suspended on a network of wires above the field, enabling broadcasters to show a bird's eye view of the action.

Spidercam 2
A spidercam does the rounds over the field of play during the 4th Test between Australia and India.

© AP

Just before lunch and with Lokesh Rahul on 46, Smith failed to hold on to a top edge from the Indian opener and pointed upwards, clearly uttering a profanity along with the word "wire".

"It was just the wire and camera moving as the ball was coming down," Lehmann told reporters. "And then he had the sun, it was a pretty difficult catch with that. You still would love him to take it but he didn't."

To rub salt into Smith's wounds, Rahul went on to score his maiden Test century, finishing with 110 as India reached 342-5 in reply to Australia's 572-7 at close of play on the third day.

Lehmann, who is a fan of the technology, said the camera just needed to be moved out of the eyeline of the fielder when the ball went behind the wickets.

"Normally what happens with a hook shot or a pull shot it's deep leg side and that's where the camera's behind, or a top edge which is exactly what happened," he said. "We just have to get the position right that's all.

"And you've got to remember players can move it and get it out of the way, so it's a bit of everything."

Channel Nine and Cricket Australia issued a joint statement saying the ball had not hit the wire. "Captain Steve Smith was distracted by one of the wires in his eye line," it read.

"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."

Steve Smith spidercam
Steve Smith reacts after dropping Lokesh Rahul.

© AP

Meanwhile, commentators on STAR Sports, the official broadcasters in South Asia, felt that Spidercam was unnecessary during match play.

"It should be totally removed from the field of play or be placed at a position where it didn't interfere with the players' vision," said former Test batsman Sanjay Manjrekar.  He was supported by experts Murali Karthik and former Australian batsman, Damien Martyn.

The eagerness of broadcasters and viewers to seek greater angles of the game had revolutionized the way the game has been shown on TV. But the 'eye in the sky' may just trigger another debate on the use of technology in cricket. But one stray incident should not spoil the fun of watching the game and from some of its impossible angles.

(With inputs from Reuters)

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