Spidercam: Villain or Hero?

Updated: 08 January 2015 23:34 IST

Australia captain Steve Smith blamed cables connecting the Spidercam for a dropped catch during India's batting. Do these complex system - adding a unique angle to broadcasting - truly hinder the normal passage of play?

Spidercam: Villain or Hero?
A spidercam does the rounds over the field of play during the 4th Test between Australia and India. © AP

Millions may revere Spiderman as a hero but the Australian cricket team may well denounce the superhero's audio-visual version. The Spidercam - hailed as a marvel of technological advancement in television broadcasting - was 'partly blamed' for a dropped catch during India's batting at Sydney on Thursday. (Complete coverage of India's tour of Australia)

Centurion Lokesh Rahul played a well-controlled innings but he did get a lifeline when he was dropped by Australia captain Steve Smith. The fielder - possibly embarrassed - mouthed expletives as he pointed towards the cables holding the camera up. (Lokesh Rahul thanks Virat Kohliafter scoring a century)

"Captain Steve Smith was distracted by one of the wires in his eye line," read a release issued by Cricket Australia and Channel Nine - the official broadcasters of the match. (Also read: Spidercam spins new web of controversy)

While the release also said that concerned players can ask umpires to have the position of Spidercams changed, in the case of Smith, the ball never touched either the camera or the wires.

Steve Smith spidercam
Steve Smith reacts after dropping Lokesh Rahul.

© AP

So, is it fair to blame the camera for the shoddy fielding or does Smith indeed have a valid point against it?

Spidercams, called eye-in-the-sky, are used globally to bring sports events closer to television audiences. Developed by an Austrian company, the Spidercam system refers to a fully functional cable-suspension to transport the camera vertically and horizontally.

Tested first in 2003, the system has been a common sight at not just sporting events but also in concerts and huge rallies. The 'in-flight view' has been and continues to be a favourite among spectators at home - making it an essential part of global broadcasts.

In cricket specifically, the position of a Spidercam is adjusted as per communications between broadcast director and the third umpire. Although no previous incidents of interference have been reported, Thursday's episode is likely to create some degree of controversy.

Spidercam 1 SCG
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

Topics : India Australia India in Australia Series, 2014-15 Lokesh Rahul Stephen Barry Smith Sydney Cricket Ground (SCG), Sydney Cricket
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