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Spider cam's web of intrigue

There were debuts everywhere for the first test of the series at Lord's. Both Elgar and Root as captains, Heino Kuhn for South Africa, and one other that escaped attention until it was cursed at by Vernon Philander as he grassed that chance from Bairstow at long-off on day four.

The Home of Cricket has always been traditional and resisted change, but the modernisation of the product has tentacles that even Lord's couldn't say no to. Spider cam was used above that hallowed turf for the first time and introduced a new perspective to test match cricket in England. Anything that brings the viewer closer to the players has got to be good news in my book.

This spider cam operation is owned by a German company and obviously run by talented guys from Germany. Cricket is not the only sport they cover and as you can imagine their cricket knowledge is fairly limited. That could be problematic as their job is to offer shots and follow demands from the longtime Sky cricket director Mark Lynch.

Mark told me that the day before the Lord's test he decided to quiz the spider cam operators on their field position knowledge to ensure they knew exactly the shots he would be looking for when he directed them.

As the spider cam hummed above the field via four motorised winches positioned at each corner of the ground, the results were impressive. They were given 10 out of 10 by Mark, as all positions were correctly shown and with some urgency.

Following that exercise Mark chatted with the Germans. He was surprised by one question from the spider cam "pilot". He wanted to know how difficult it would be getting shots of all thirty players as they were fielding. Mark was taken aback and asked him to explain.

As it turns out, the spider cam "pilot" learnt all the fielding positions from a well-known cricket tea towel that has all the known field placings printed on it on a drawing of a cricket ground.

He thought, due to his cricket-learning tea towel, that there were always thirty fielders on the ground at once!

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