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Ken Borland

TV networks’ bias under scrutiny as Marnus slips from the net 0

Posted on November 07, 2023 by Ken

The incident on the opening day of the third Test between the Proteas and Australia where South Africa were convinced they had caught Marnus Labuschagne in the slips, only for the batsman to slip from the net, thankfully has not had a major bearing on the game, but it did highlight an area of cricket – and many other sports – where the authorities need to consider the role of host broadcasters.

Labuschagne enjoyed a huge slice of luck when he was on 70 and he edged left-armer Marco Jansen low to first slip, where Simon Harmer seemed to have scooped up a fine catch.

Neither Labuschagne nor the umpires were 100% convinced though, with third umpire Richard Kettleborough being called into play, the soft signal being out. Having watched numerous replays, the Englishman felt the ball had touched the ground, but a conclusive replay, zoomed in from the front, was strangely absent.

Labuschagne survived, and five minutes later, the crucial replay suddenly emerged and showed that Harmer did get his fingers under the ball. Fortunately, the South African-born batsman could only add nine more runs before the heroic Anrich Nortje got him caught behind.

The incident raised suspicions about the role of host broadcasters in the officiating of the game, and it later emerged that the third umpire only had access to the world feed camera shots and the front-on slow-mo replay was exclusively a Seven Network shot. But how that footage then appeared on the SuperSport feed was not explained.

One must credit Cricket Australia for their rapid response to the incident, with CEO Nick Hockley saying they will conduct a review on whether the third umpire should have access to footage from both broadcast rights holders.

“The broadcasting of cricket is probably the most complicated of any of the major sports,” Hockley said. “We have a huge number of cameras. It was really, really fine margins. The match referees and umpires are making the best calls they can with the information they have available.”

Indeed, Kettleborough and the onfield umpires, Chris Gaffaney and Paul Reiffel, should not be blamed for this controversy. It was an exceptionally tough decision for Kettleborough to make based on the incomplete picture he was given.

The International Cricket Council has been pretty good at removing the frustration of clearly wrong decisions from the game, and I would say the DRS is a roaring success. They will surely now be contemplating the perceptions of bias among host broadcasters.

As South Africans, we need to acknowledge the anger Australians felt when SuperSport targeted their cameras on them in 2018/19, while who can forget Indian captain Virat Kohli’s furious outburst (strangely unpunished) into the stump mics a year ago at Newlands.

And this is not just a cricket problem. Rugby has been particularly under the spotlight, with South African fans, already feeling there is a vendetta against them, infuriated by the number of times there has been incomplete footage of a TV referral that seemed to be going the way of their team. Like what happened with France’s matchwinning try against the Springboks a couple of months ago.

It’s a bit like an arms race, with broadcasters doing nefarious things on a tit-for-tat basis because they feel ‘their’ team were on the receiving end when they went overseas. But moulding the outcome of key decisions is clearly unsporting and we don’t want the match officials to become merely ornamental in nature.

If the current trend continues, the legitimacy of the sport we watch could end up having a wound that a mere plaster won’t fix.

Would an association of sports broadcasters which has a clear code of conduct be the answer? Any broadcaster who has been found to engage in favouritism could be stripped of their membership and not allowed to bid for TV rights.

There are bound to be all sorts of contractual, legal and practical obstacles to overcome, but would neutral executive producers/directors be the answer?

Both the ICC and WorldRugby managed to phase in neutral officials a long time back, which seemed unlikely to be possible at one stage, so where there is a will (and there needs to be one!) there is a way.

Fresh off career-best, Rossouw wants to net trophies for SA 0

Posted on September 09, 2022 by Ken

Fresh off his career-best T20 score for South Africa, Rilee Rossouw said he wants to net trophies for the Proteas and he will have an opportunity as early as Sunday to do that in the deciding game of the three-match series against England in Southampton.

Winning their first white-ball series in England since 1998 is the short-term goal of the South Africans, but this trio of matches had a more significant personal importance for Rossouw, who last played for the Proteas in 2016. It was very much a World Cup trial for the left-handed batsman and he has surely booked his ticket to Australia in two months time with his blazing 96 not out off 55 balls in the series-levelling 58-run victory in Cardiff on Thursday night.

“Representing your country is the proudest thing you can do and I just want to help the Proteas win trophies,” Rossouw said afterwards.

“The Proteas have had some great results over the last year-and-a-half, the team is building momentum to the World Cup and there have been good team and individual performances. The sky’s the limit.

“Unfortunately things did not go my way in the first game, I was probably a bit over-confident with the amount of runs I have scored in England this season. So I really wanted to do well today.

“I wanted three figures really badly, but credit to Chris Jordan for an exceptional last over with him bowling those yorkers so well. But for me to put up a performance like that was really special, it’s been a very emotional day,” Rossouw said.

After Sunday’s decider on a good batting wicket at the Rose Bowl in Southampton, South Africa have two games against Ireland and a series versus India left before the T20 World Cup. Coach Mark Boucher will be satisfied that he has spread the net wide and searched every nook and cranny for explosive, aggressive players, and it will be interesting to see if regulars like Aiden Markram, Rassie van der Dussen, Anrich Nortje and Dwaine Pretorius are still rested for the last match against England.

With opening batsman Reeza Hendricks scoring fluent back-to-back half-centuries and Rossouw coming good at No.3, the Proteas top-order has done well.

The hosts will be hoping their experienced opener Jason Roy will finally fire. The 32-year-old has scored just 67 runs off 85 balls in his last six innings and he really batted like a granny in his previous match in Southampton, scoring just four off 16 balls against India three weeks ago.

Sunday’s game is a day fixture starting at 3.30pm SA time.

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    John 15:16 – “You did not choose me, but I chose you and appointed you that you should go and bear fruit and that your fruit should abide, so that whatever you ask the Father in my name, he may give it to you.”

    Our Christian experience begins when the Holy Spirit starts working in our imperfect lives. An inexplicable restlessness and a feeling that nothing can give you the satisfaction you yearn for, could be the Spirit working in you.

    Even when God calls you and chooses you to serve him, there may be inner conflict and confusion because you are not always willing to do what God is asking of you.

    But this inner struggle is part of spiritual life … Commit yourself to God and open yourself to the inflowing of the Holy Spirit.

    It is by great grace that you were chosen by God to serve him and to live to the honour and glory of his name. Surrender unconditionally to the Lord and you will discover that your life gains new meaning and purpose.

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