Friday, 28 March 2014
Column 4, 2014 - An extra little zing
Printed in The Cricket Paper issue 76, Friday March 28, 2014. [Full text below]
Every other week it seems, some new thing is introduced to cricket to tweak it just a little bit, primp it or rejig it in some way. The game is constantly changing by tiny increments. We just can’t leave it alone.
Sometimes this is bad, sometimes it’s good.
Helmets changed the game, probably for the better. Enormous bats are changing the game. I’m not sure that is better. Having two new balls has changed ODIs. I’m pretty sure that isn’t better.
Hawk-Eye, Hot Spot, DRS and all that, well, I remain unconvinced. What I am convinced about though, is that umpires calling for TV reviews on every single run out, and us watching half a dozen slow-motion replays of batsmen out by a yard from four different angles, has definitely not enhanced cricket as a spectacle.
What has? Well, I don’t know when it was that boundaries started creeping in from the hoardings, but it was definitely a good thing. The kind of fully committed athletic boundary fielding now common in all forms of the game wouldn’t be possible without it. And those squishy Toblerone-like advertising ‘boundary sponges’ provide a similar satisfaction to knocking over walls made of colourful toy bricks. They’re not only safer to slide into, they look great while you’re doing it. They have, I would say, improved cricket as a spectacle.
Which brings me to my favourite innovation of recent times, and one I’m delighted to see making its ICC debut at the World T20 – the crazy light-up bails.
First seen, by me at any rate, during the 2012 Aussie domestic T20 tournament The Big Bash, the bails are called Zings. They have movement sensors in the spigots which detect when they’re dislodged, and trigger the LEDs.
They look fantastic. They add drama and a sort of kitsch glamour to stumpings and run outs, and a spectacular firework quality to being bowled. I don’t see a downside at all. They look great, and they might occasionally be helpful in tight decisions.
Obviously, I needed some.
After a bit of digging I wrote to the Australian company (www.zings.biz) that makes them, asking if they were planning to make them commercially available. The ones on the telly send a signal to the stumps within 1/1000th of a second, which then light up as well, and cost $40k a set. Obviously that’s slightly over the top for village cricket, but how about just the movement-sensitive bails, without the radio tech?
The postage took a month and was almost as much as the bails, and they got stopped by customs on the way in and slapped with VAT and a handling charge, but I don’t care.
Murky midweek games at Damerham this summer will be lit up by the bright flashing lights of what might be (I’m not sure, but I wouldn’t be surprised) the first set of Zings in England. Roll on the gloomy evenings.
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