The technology influenced evolution of cricket never ceases to surprise. When the stump camera was introduced by the BBC in the early 1990s, replays showed the ball leaving the bowler’s hand, swinging into the batsmen before leaving the screen blank at the point of impact. It was almost as if the fan was facing the menacing Wasim Akram himself.
Fast forward to the IPL semi-final in 2010 and fans witnessed a bizarre flying object, dangling with cables, criss-crossing the cricket field while providing a birds eye view of the game. The spidercam had arrived.
If for fleeting moment, you thought all the possible camera angles in cricket were covered, you're so wrong. For, the latest innovation in cricket is here and it's called the Pitchcam.
Viewers watching the telecast of the Karbon Karnataka Premier League 2016, in Hubbali, have probably witnessed this rather unusual sight. It is the visual of a batsman in his stance, ready and waiting for the bowler. The only anomaly here is that the visual isn't the usual front-on angle. Instead, it’s from the ground-up.
Pioneered by the Karbon Karnataka Premier League, the Pitchcam is the first of its kind in world cricket. The camera, encased in a special case created from hard glass, is placed at the edge of the pitch and on the popping crease.
The cables connecting the camera are drawn up to the stump camera. The camera is placed strategically so as not to disturb the batsman. Yet it gives a clear view of proceedings. This startling innovation gives an up-close and personal view of the batsman, his stance and the shots he plays.
The producers have stated that this was in the works for a while and they were waiting for an opportunity to implement it. Hardened materials have been used and this ensures that even if players were to run over it, the glass stays intact. They also claim that it's inexpensive and easy to implement. A case in point being the fact that the Pitchcam suffered a blow during the Mysuru Warriors and Bijapur Bulls match. However, live images were restored as the production team replaced the case with ease during the innings break.
And like the spidercam, does the Pitchcam distract the batsmen or bowler? Apparently not, as the players have claimed to not notice it when out in the middle. The result is a new camera angle and a close-up visual of the batsman, in his stance, ready and waiting to take on the bowler.
And more importantly, it’s a first in world cricket and a moment of great pride for India and the Karbon Karnataka Premier League in particular.