I was playing a game not long after the review system was introduced to Test matches. Without TV cameras and technology at our game there was no chance of a review. Yet at the first dodgy LBW decision the first slip turned to me and made the now familiar T sign. We both quietly giggled and hope the umpire hadn’t seen the dissent.
That story tells me all I need to know about how TV has changed how we approach cricket, even when we don’t have cameras and Hawkeye at our games.
Here are 4 ways TV has changed the game since I started playing in the early 90s.
1. Front foot LBW is more likely
Back in the pre-technology days it was virtually impossible to get out LBW if you were hit on the front pad.
The umpire would scoff at the merest suggestion, especially when the spinner was on. Anyone who was given out that way would complain for weeks about being triggered.
Since ball tracking has come about it’s a different story. We have all seen on TV how often the ball hits the pads and would have gone on to hit the stumps. Umpires are more confident in their decision and that poor spinner gets a lot more wickets than before.
2. Unorthodox play is acceptable
TV has beamed the switch hit, the dilscoop, the helicopter, the slog sweep and goodness knows what other insane shots. Kids follow suit. I’ve lost count of the number of times I’ve seen kids at my club messing about in nets and emulating the shots of their heroes.
Of course not, but it is fun. One player in my team relishes in playing the reverse sweep in matches when he knows everyone is watching.
It’s an important point for coaches especially. It’s increasingly difficult to coach orthodox shots without players assuming you are out-of-touch because you never taught the ramp over the slips.
3. Respect for umpires has fallen
Most recently, as my story at the start of this article demonstrated, TV technology has reduced the respect for umpires at club level.
Players, especially younger ones, see the best umpires in the world make mistakes. They see that players have the right to review umpiring decisions. The ultimate authority of the umpire is eroded.
It’s no wonder that there are more questions than ever about decisions. With no way to review, some players get angry and umpires feel the force of disrespect or even abuse.
4. We are even more stat obsessed
Before technology cricket was a game for the stattos. Now it’s a paradise for them. You can obsess about way more than your batting average now.
With the speed gun, players all want to compare their speed to the top players. They want to know how their speed alters during a spell.
The same is true of the use of ball tracking. Bowlers want to see where they are landing the ball, batsman want to see where they have hit it.
Frustratingly, without Hawkeye those who don’t play on TV like you and I could only guess.
That was true until technology started to trickle down. The best example of this effect is here:
With the influence of TV growing, coaches and captains have even more to do to help players make the translation from what’s on the box to what happens in club games.
Whether it’s instilling respect for umpires or investing in technology that allows players to compare themselves to the best, TV technology can’t be disregarded as an important factor in the club game.