Wednesday, 3 February 2016

DOES MIKING UP PLAYERS TURN CRICKET INTO A CIRCUS?


The latest blog for ESPNcricinfo (given a much snappier title than I've managed) was supposed to be a general look at the way broadcasters are encroaching on the game, particularly T20, asking whether, in the main, this was a good or bad thing, and in what ways.

Then something happened. I was watching the 1st Australia vs India T20I at Adelaide when a quite extraordinary 2 minutes 20 seconds of live international cricket broadcasting happened, involving the current Australian Test captain (though not skipper on this occasion) Steven Smith talking live while batting to the three Channel 9 commentators, Mark Nicholas, Mike Hussey and Ian Healy. It lasted one Ravindra Jadeja over. It ended in Smith's dismissal and a rather animated send-off from Virat Kohli.

So I wrote about that incident, and the wider implications of having players wired up and conversing with commentators. 


When Entertainment becomes Intrusion

It was a real struggle to whittle this down to 1200. I could easily have gone through the exchange sentence by sentence, riffing on the various issues it raised. 


Here's the exchange as it played out in real time: 


Australia are 82 for 1 off 8, chasing 189. They have taken 19 from the previous over. Steve Smith is 20 off 12 balls.

Nicholas: Steve Smith’s miked up. Steve, you’ve got ahead of the rate.
Smith: What’s that, sorry?
Nicholas: You’ve got ahead of the rate now.
Smith: Yeah, we’re going alright.

Ridiculously over-the-top laugh from Nicholas.

Smith: Hopefully we can keep getting a few boundaries away here and there. We’ve got plenty of power, so… It’s a pretty nice wicket out there. It’s coming on pretty well so all good at the minute.

He finishes just as Jadeja leaps to bowl. Aaron Finch cuts to point. No run.

Hussey: Steve Smith, what’s the plan against Jadeja? Where are you going to try and hit him?
Smith: Wherever he bowls it. Just watch the ball and see what happens.

Again, Jadeja is entering his delivery stride when Smith finishes. Finch lifts the ball over extra cover. It will skip away for four.

Smith: That’s a nice shot!
Nicholas: You commentate for us, mate. You’ve got it covered. You’ve got the bird’s-eye view.
Smith: What’s that, sorry?  
Nicholas: You’ve got the best view. You call it for us.
Smith: That was nice, that. I’ll see what I can do for ya…

Jadeja is running in again…

Smith: Might have to run hard here. Pretty long boundary straight. We’ll see how we go.

Finch drives to deep cover. Smith calls “yep” and scurries to get on strike.

Nicholas: Now, are you pre-meditating or not?
Smith: When do I premeditate?!
Nicholas (laughing): Yeah, yeah.

Jadeja in. Smith works the ball from outside off to deep mid-wicket.

Smith (to Finch): Yeah, push, c’mon!

They settle for one.

Hussey: That’s really interesting, Steve: no premeditation at this stage. You’re just seeing the ball and looking to react to it?
Smith: Oh yeah, you never know what’s going through our minds.

Jadeja is already running into bowl. Finch drives out into the covers.

Smith (to Finch): Just the one, mate.
Smith (to Hussey):
You never know mate. You’ve just got to watch the ball and see what happens.

Smith is on strike for the final ball of the over.

Healy: He’s darting them in, angled in to the right-handers. 103kph.

It’s unclear whether this is commentary or advice. Smith tries to work a ball from outside off stump through the completely open midwicket region. He gets a leading edge to extra-cover, where Virat Kohli takes the catch and proceeds to give Smith a send-off.   

Nicholas: Steve Smith is out, and he’s unable to talk us through that. Understandably. What a disappointment: 21 to Steve Smith.


 

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