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Ken Borland

Spidercam may be haute couture of TV coverage, but it nearly caused Nortje serious injury

Posted on August 14, 2023 by Ken

The spidercam – or the Flying Fox as it is called in Australia – is the haute couture of televised cricket coverage these days, but on Tuesday it nearly caused serious injury to South African fast bowler Anrich Nortje in the second Test at the Melbourne Cricket Ground.

Following a high-speed burst of fast bowling after lunch, Nortje was walking in the outfield between overs when the aerial camera, which glides along movable cables, came whizzing up from behind and hit him on his left shoulder and back, knocking him to the ground.

Fortunately South Africa’s most impressive bowler on a torrid second day was able to get up immediately, but he gestured his incredulity at the umpire who had seen the incident.

While it has become the fashion in rugby for the broadcast producers to use camera footage for the benefit of the home team, it would surely be taking things too far, (even for Australians!) to use an expensive, 315kg camera to barrel into players.

While Nortje did not seem too bothered by the incident after the day’s play, he did say players have sounded the warning before about how low the spidercams sometimes travel.

“We’ve spoken before about how low the camera goes for certain interviews. I really don’t think it should be travelling head-high. They need to take Marco Jansen [2.07m tall] into consideration as well,” Nortje said with a smile.

“It knocked my shoulder and elbow and the medical staff will just monitor it. I just saw cables I turned and moved my head, saw the camera and it all happened a little quick. I didn’t really know what had hit me.”

Broadcasters Fox Cricket have made no public mention of the harrowing incident, but a Proteas spokeswoman said they did apologise to the team.

“They put it down to human error and the cam was disabled for the rest of the day. They’ll ensure that measures are put in place for the remainder of the match and series to ensure that it doesn’t get as low as it did today,” Proteas media manager Lucy Davey told The Citizen.

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