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End of innings for Nine's weird world of cricket

  • 13 February 2008
Some things never change. One of these is cricket on Channel Nine.

Technically, of course, Channel Nine cricket has marched triumphantly with or ahead of the times. The camera work is prodigious, the gimmickry is state of the art. Personally, I find the 'hot spot' informative and interesting. Conversely, 'Stump Cam' makes the pitch look like an airport tarmac seen through a rainstorm from a thousand metres and closing.

The stump microphone adds a potentially fascinating dimension to one's cricket enjoyment, but aside from relaying the sound of bat and ball, the scuff of boots, and the muffled barracking of fieldsmen, it only realises its true potential when no-one has noticed the volume has been accidentally turned up. It was from stump mike that we learned on a recent tour that for some extraordinary reason, the Pakistanis preferred to speak in Urdu, a language with which not many Australian players are familiar. Perfidious Pakistanis.

During recent controversies, however, the contribution of the stump mike was conclusive and damning but no-one took any notice. Although stump mike had Matthew Hayden clearly saying to Harbajhan, 'That's racial vilification, mate!' this was apparently a distortion of what he really said, which was, 'Love your turban'.

'Super SloMo' is truly poetry in motion but, while poetry can beautifully capture and enhance reality, it rarely resolves anything. Did the ball hit the ground before he grabbed it? Super SloMo's exquisitely unfolding, earth-stopping, fraction-by-fraction ballet only deepens the doubt, and doubt is what the batsman gets the benefit of every time. So forget it — leave it to the umpire and sack him if the batting side doesn't like the call. It's hard not to wonder if some of the technological innovations are used simply because, like high mountains, they are there.

But the one enduring certainty in Channel Nine cricket always has been and remains, sadly, the advertising. The original decision to advertise between overs was a bad one but it has stuck like most of the commentary team. The result is that the process of the game — cricket's leisurely quality, its terrestrial chess complexities — simply get run over, blurred into extinction.

Channel Nine advertising during decades of cricket provides a fascinating longitudinal study which suggests that, despite constant revamps and more technology, some television advertising formats are essentially ageless. In one form or another beautifully dressed, stunningly flawless housewives, who differ from the Venus de Milo only in