Embrace the influence of television
Sports talk He departed, in the best Australian cricket tradition, amid a torrent of curses and swear words.
The fact that television has a huge influence in modern international sport seems to have caught some people by surprise. The Mitchell Marsh incident in the third one-day cricket international, when the Australian was given out after the umpires saw the replay on the big video screen in Hamilton, caused a national debate.
Even the Trans-Pacific Partnership free trade agreement, the New Zealand flag and the future of Waitangi Day were pushed off the front pages. The Australians felt aggrieved. Marsh hit the ball into his toe and it rebounded to the bowler, Matt Henry, who caught it and appealed gently.
The umpires did not respond to the appeal and Marsh feigned nonchalance. Then the video screen revealed Marsh had, in fact, been caught.
After a discussion and another look at the replay, the umpires gave Marsh out and he departed, in the best Australian cricket tradition, amid a torrent of curses and swear words.
Later there was debate on talkback, and in letters to the editor, about television’s role in the dismissal and in sport generally.
Why that should suddenly become an issue is beyond me.
Television has a huge influence on sport, primarily because it pays most of the bills and, through its coverage, allows sports to attract sponsors and advertising.
Football matches don’t begin until television is ready and the referee has been given permission to start proceedings. Rugby matches now have absurdly long halftime intervals, to accommodate television.
The 2008 Beijing Olympic swimming finals were held in the morning, with the preliminaries the previous evening, purely to accommodate American television.
It certainly wasn’t how the swimmers wanted it.
But we wouldn’t have a lot of international sport if it wasn’t for television. And besides, television allows for much more precise officiating these days.
The third umpire in cricket and the television match official in rugby are increasingly involved in decision-making in big matches. Even sports like golf and snooker use television on occasion.
As technology improves, the replays become available ever quicker, as was the case in Hamilton. No longer do television technicians have to respool tape to set up a replay!
In cricket these days, there are four umpires, and television cameras everywhere. There’s technology like Hotspot, Ball tracker, Hawk-eye and Snicko, all designed to ensure the correct decision is reached.
Why then would anyone have even raised an eyebrow when television was able to conclusively say Marsh was out the other day?
Rather than curse the New Zealanders, Marsh might have reflected that he could have taken the moral high ground and walked off immediately, because he was the one person who knew he had hit the ball into his toe.
Two other comments about that incident:
I detest sledging but did smile at Grant Elliott’s query to Marsh as he departed cursing and shouting. ‘‘Aren’t we playing caught and bowleds?’’ Elliott inquired quietly.
And what about Australian wicketkeeper Matthew Wade? He savagely berated Elliott with ‘‘Only a f*** coward sledges people when they walk off’’.
Of course, that’s just what keeper Aussie Brad Haddin did so unashamedly to the New Zealand batsmen in last year’s World Cup final.
But that was different, because the Australians were winning.
Mitchell Marsh, not best pleased with developments in Hamilton.