We’ve just finished watching our favourite team Sri Lanka win the World T20 championship! Considered the underdog going into the game, they bowled brilliantly at the death in the first innings and batted sensibly in the second to surpass India’s modest total. It’s great they won – if they lose it usually takes me a while to recover a good mood even though I think I don’t take it as seriously as some. I really enjoy piecing together what I imagine is happening behind the scenes, as the the sports broadcasters manoeuvre their way through technology, ICC regulations, advertiser demands and viewer actions. For this game I noticed that Sky Sports had an orangey box graphic to help viewers understand where a batsman had the most or least difficulty meeting a ball. Marrying a live action shot of the batsman in his crease with the orange box seemed a bit clumsy to me. At first, I thought there was some switcher difficulty, not understanding why the box was there. Having a commentator explain how the ball would travel and using coloured arrows or circles to identify the weak or strong area takes up extra time and once I got used to the orange box I got it. But I would guess this is a first iteration and something stronger visually will be developed. It’s amazing to me to see how quickly these graphics get tried out and either adopted or discarded. Back when I was in television, a graphic like this would take a lot of design and management discussions, off air trials and rehearsals. And of course after that kind of investment you would stay with a decision for longer. With the ease of computers, it seems much less burdensome to give things like an orange box a try. I wonder if the broadcasters get a lot of viewer feedback afterwards. I’m expecting that some sort of animation linking the direction of the incoming ball and the response of the batsman is on its way. And when it does I’ll be fascinated!
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