Hawkeye’s Got A Sale For You!

Of all the modern innovations that TV has introduced in cricket — the third umpire, the Snick-O-Meter, ultra-slow-motion replays — I have been most impressed with Hawkeye’s influence on LBW debates. As most of you know, this lovely tool takes a ball’s path and projects its trajectory in relation to the stumps. Since leg-before-wicket decisions are still very mysterious — does the ball always have to be pitched in line with the stumps? How does an umpire decide if a ball is too high or not? What if a batsman reverse-sweeps: does that mean that his leg-stump has become an off-stump? — Hawkeye usually breaks it down very clearly to LBW’s essentials.

Unfortunately, TV channels have now taken to airing advertisements next to the fake ball’s fake trajectory. Understand what this means: already, in our actual world, we are exposed to advertisements almost all the time, whenever and wherever. Now, in the fake world of Hawkeye, advertisers have found a way in. Of course, I don’t think all advertising is evil — bills need to be paid — and Hawkeye’s technology must be expensive. But it’s reached ludicrous levels: check out this coverage of an India-Pakistan match (brought to you by Allianz — four times, too!):

It gets worse when Australia’s Channel 9 does it, because they try their best to simulate not only the pitch and the ball’s trajectory, but the stadium’s look itself. So, the viewer sees the ball, and behind that, he sees a mock sightscreen, with Ford’s logo on it, and next to that, he sees a stand covered in “CSI: NY” ads.

So, the fake world does its best to look like the real world (where advertisements are ubiquitous), and yet, even in this beautiful simulation, where all indecision and complexity is removed (by Hawkeye), we still have the real world’s obsessive money culture. Sigh. I guess all the Luddites are correct: technology can only do so much for cricket.


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