This is a very difficult day to highlight an area of sport that I’m thankful to be missing at the moment. You see, because there’s television news updates, and pop ups, and headlines, and big screens in shopping centres, and online images, and people who text me, I am aware that my two favourite cricketers had big days yesterday. Huge.
Ponting finally got his century and hopefully buys himself a bit of time in the process to prolong an amazing career. And then our captain makes over 250, is still not out, and could push for something truly special today.
And even Mike Hussey sits on 55 and could push for a much-needed century. (Blogger’s update – which, of course, he did!) Hussey, the focus of the last post, was terribly unlucky in the first test and had his career placed in jeopardy as a result of a farcical decision by the International Cricket Council (ICC).
Clarke and Ponting were major elements that came up when I first realised I would be missing the entire summer of cricket in a November post. I doubt that there’s now any focus whatsoever on Clarke’s ex-girlfriend or the tatts. Silence, haters…
Meanwhile, throughout all this yesterday, I went shopping for health insurance. I could go into detail as to why, but I’m already bored with the topic and figure that you must be too.
(I’m also aware that Serena Williams could be out of the Australian Open. Unfortunately, as it’s not because of yet another tantrum or threatening to kill more officials and is in fact due to an injury, I won’t make fun of her. Sigh…)
Surely it can help
A natural segue from the Hussey and cricket debacle is to the use or non-use of technology in sport. There’s nothing more infuriating than a blatant travesty of justice in the sporting arena that can be easily identified simply by looking at a screen. We’ve all familiar with them –
- Game winning shots in basketball incorrectly allowed or disallowed.
- Goals in AFL that came off hands or the wrong team or even the goal post.
- Soccer goals that went over the line and then spun back out that no one saw, well … except for the millions watching on television…
- Players given out or not out in cricket or catches claimed that have clearly hit the turf.
- Touchdowns claimed where the player didn’t actually catch the ball, but simply hugged the ball next to him as it and he skidded along the ground.
In all of the above situations, the integrity and the results of the games have been disaffected. Championships and premierships altered. Careers compromised. Millions of fans outraged. Countries at odds. That’s not an exaggeration – Maradona’s ‘Hand of God’, anyone?!
We all take some amount of pleasure in bagging the Americans, but in this field, they are far and away the world leaders, making FIFA president Sepp Blatter look like the outdated, arrogant leader that he is.
The NFL in particular, has gone to amazing lengths to ensure the highest integrity for its competition. From completed catches to touchdowns to whether a player’s toes were millimeters inbounds or out of bounds when a ball was caught, they use technology like no other competition in the world to make sure they get it right.
The NBA referees can now utilise the assistance of video replays to check whether shots at the end of each quarter were released before the clock ticked down to 0.00. They still have a long way to go, but it’s a great start.
In Australia, the AFL is yet to even realise that we have digital television, so they’re happy for goals in Grand Finals to still be given, even though they’re coming off the post. Did I mention Andrew Demetriou and Sepp Blatter are golfing buddies?!
Does it have to be perfect?!
Cricket on the other hand seems caught between a rock and a hard place. On one hand, the ICC has reluctantly ‘caught up’ in some areas and implemented its motion, visual and infrared technology for caught off the bat decisions, as well as LBW. They even check as to whether 4s were 4s before a fielder slides in for the save.
Yet the strive for excellence and accuracy continues to be compromised by the political bickering stemming from the subcontinent. India, we’re looking at you. Sure the technology isn’t ‘perfect’, yet it never will be. An appropriate margin of error has been allowed for, but yet again we are at the mercy of the hysteria from our guest nation.
Who’s in a rush?!
Another common opposing argument to the systematic implementation of technology to help with on-field decisions has been that it takes too much time to make the correct decision.
In cricket, this is laughable.
The Commonwealth Bank’s successful and sensational ad campaign, ‘Cricket – watch us stand’ had it about right. There’s not exactly a rush in a sport that can take 5 days to finish, and sometimes still ends up in a draw!
Basketball and football, have more rights to make this argument, yet there have been no situations where an indecent amount of time has been wasted during video reviews. The focus from everyone involved during these times – players and fans – has been on awaiting the right decision, not, ‘This is taking too long!’
Players from both teams are getting the same amount of rest. No one is disadvantaged. There have been no injuries due to prolonged waiting. The outcries from an unjust outcome far exceed the whines of an impatient few.
We’ve been lucky in the most recent case that a player’s career wasn’t prematurely ended as a result of an incorrect decision that was easily identified on television. There are those who embrace the human element, safe in the knowledge ‘that it all evens out in the end’. If only that were the case.
We have the capabilities at our disposal to more consistently have accurate decision making and the game’s governing bodies have a responsibility to its fans and players, some of whom have their careers at stake, to get it right more often.
I will miss the centuries and double centuries, but I won’t miss the inept leadership when unnecessary mistakes are made.
140 days to go… 🙂