Does using an on-field microphone to interact and engage with the telecasters make you a chatterbox?
Virat Kohli certainly thought so when he gave Steven Smith a fiery send-off in the first T20 against Australia.
The Test skipper—relieved of captaincy duties—was back to being the animated fury on the ground he usually is.
The Delhi cricketer is all aggro as a player and mouths expletives at the drop of a hat.
Kohli saw red when his opposing Test counterpart lost his wicket cheaply while commentating live for Channel 9.
Australian viewers were not amused with the manner of Smith’s dismissal blaming the broadcasters for disturbing his concentration.
They took in hordes to Twitter to deplore the broadcaster’s unwelcome intrusion.
What’s really going on?
Do fans really need insights from batters about what’s happening on the field?
This kind of circus is part and parcel of the Big Bash League and the Indian Premier League.
The purported purpose is to make the the viewers and the expert commentators feel part of the action.
It would be better if mic’ing up players was restricted to fielders and umpires. Bowlers and batters need to be able to focus and concentrate on how they’re to be delivering or playing the next ball. Fielding is a much more instinctive chore consisting of reacting to on-field events as they occur. Similarly, umpiring.
Batters and bowlers, however, need to plan and pace their innings and overs.
But what was the actual reason for Kohli’s acrid mouthing off and signing?
Could it be that the Indian was not pleased that Smith was shielded from the banter fielders engage in when rival batters are at the crease?
Kohli has mentioned that he sees nothing wrong with sledging the opposition.
His young Indian side is not known to hold back unlike previous Indian sides.
“The opposition has every right to sledge as long as it doesn’t not cross the line and you have every right to reply as long as it is doesn’t cross the line. There have been lot of smart comments of late and mine turned out to be a perfectly timed one.
I did not intend to do that. I just said what came to mind. It was actually not far from the truth. That banter is enjoyable but at the same time, you need to focus on the game.”
Sledgers wouldn’t enjoy their choicest jibes drowned out by commentary from the press box. Why would they? Additionally , they would have to be careful around the boffin with the microphone lest their tomfoolery be caught by the sensitive microphones.
Not much fun for the fielders. The boot would be on the other foot with them forced to be silent around a jabbering Steve Smith.
Can you see the irony in the situation?
And assuming that what the fielders said did carry to Steve Smith, how would he be able to focus with three or more sets of sounds in his eardrums?
Fielders’ banter, experts’ questions, noise from the crowd and finally the sound of his own voice.
That sounds like a lot to take in—even for a man who has scored a mountain of runs in every format over the past two years.
Kohli was the man who had a hand (and mouth) in Smith’s dismissal. Steven Smith was out for 21 off 14 balls caught by Kohli bowled Ravindra Jadeja.
Smith immediately shut up giving no further feedback to the Wide World of Sports commentary team.
Mahendra Singh Dhoni had earlier criticised Spider Cam and intrusion from TV gimmicks.
Spider Cam obstructed Virat Kohli’s first scoring shot in the final ODI preventing a sure boundary. The ball was declared dead.
The operators of this novelty are known to thrust the lens right under the face of departing batsmen hoping to capture their visible disappointment for television viewers. Aussie players are accustomed to such paparazzi-like behaviour from cameramen but Indian players are disturbed and irate.
“I am quite a traditional guy. I have always felt that… anything that disturbs the game of cricket I don’t like it. It all started right from the T20 where people would be like, ‘Why don’t you wear a mic?’, ‘Why don’t you wear a camera?’
I have always felt there is a need for balance. At the end of the day it is a spectator sport, people watching on television, but at the same time four runs can matter, especially when it is a close game. Those four runs can be crucial. Everyone gets penalised, why not have the same system for the spidercam? Say, ‘Okay if you get hit, 2000 dollars per hit.’ Let’s make it interesting.
People [broadcasters] are striving for more. When you have got out and walking off, the cameraman goes right under your face. The same way the spidercam is right next to you. You have seen players, they are like, ‘What is happening?’ It makes a lot of noise. At the end of the day it is also about the spectators. If spectators are not there, cricket won’t be played. It is a mix and match; 2000 dollars per hit is a good option.”
Steve Smith called the Spider Cam “his best fielder.”
Smith was unrepentant about his mode of dismissal in the first T20 denying that his on-field commenting had anything to do with his early exit.
“It [the commentary] was on at the time, but for me it was just a bad shot.
I tried to chip one over the top for two rather than trying to hit him for four or six.
It was my fault and I got to do better next time.”
Of Kohli’s send-off, he added:
“He gets pretty emotional out there, doesn’t he?
I don’t think you need to do that kind of thing when someone gets out.
It’s fine to have a little bit of banter when you’re out in the field, but when someone’s out I don’t really think that’s on.”
Virat Kohli finally disclosed the reason for his heated reaction at Steve Smith’s dismissal.
It had nothing to do with Smith’s on-field commentating but his verbal targeting of young Indian pacers after hitting a boundary.
Kohli felt it added to the pressure on them and was simply not on. He felt that he had to step in and make his displeasure known.
Hence, the expressive ‘farewell‘.