Umpire Simon Fry uses a camera on a hat in a Big Bash League match © Getty Images
By Abhijit Banare
The first match of the Indian Premier League (IPL) 2014 between Mumbai Indians (MI) and Kolkata Knight Riders (KKR) saw the umpires unusually dressed with a thick black belt strapped on one side of their shoulder with a small piece clipped to their caps. The glamourous league has decided to up the ante of improving viewership by placing a camera on the umpire’s cap.
Well, this isn’t a path-breaking idea from the organisers as it was already in use during the Big Bash League (BBL) 2012-13. The IPL-like league in Australia even saw cameras placed on the batsman’s helmet and on the wicketkeeper’s cap.
Why trouble the umpire?
In times where broadcasters look to gain upper-hand by numerous means, this is just another gimmick to make the match for more interesting viewing. It is common psychology for a viewer to imagine himself in a match situation while watching an absorbing game of cricket or any other sport.
The use of Umpire cameras is the best way to satiate the viewer’s curiosity by having such a camera. The video quality isn’t crystal clear like the regularly camera but it will improve in time. However, these cams are purely for television viewing as it doesn’t seem to be of much use for a third umpire decision.
Ever since television viewers have become a large commercial product, rising exponentially in numbers every single day, the broadcasters have looked to include various elements which could make the match interesting. The spider cameras, the zing LED bails, earpiece to speak to the players, the hawk-eye predictions are some of these.
The Manhattan and other graphs too are part of making the match data look interesting. However not all of them are a necessity. While the LED lights make it easier for the umpires to take a call whether the bails were completely off during a run-out referral.
Nevertheless, the IPL is catching up with the trend rather than being the trendsetter. The BBL on the other hand has innovated with each passing year.
(Abhijit Banare is a reporter at CricketCountry. He is an avid quizzer and loves to analyse and dig out interesting facts which allow him to learn something new everyday. Apart from cricket he also likes to keep a sharp eye on Indian politics, and can be followed on Twitter and blog)