The use of on-field microphones by players in Twenty20 matches came under fire Wednesday after star Australian batsman Steve Smith lost his wicket while answering commentators’ questions during a game against India.
Smith was answering questions from broadcaster Channel Nine’s commentators while he was in the middle with Aaron Finch as Australia attempted to chase down India’s 188 runs during Tuesday’s match at Adelaide Oval.
Shortly after speaking, Smith chipped Ravindra Jadeja and was caught at mid-off by Virat Kohli for 21, with the star Indian batsman making a “chatterbox” hand gesture at the Test captain.
Australia went on to lose the match.
Australian fans slammed Channel Nine on Twitter, blaming the commercial station for distracting Smith, while others said Kohli’s gesture was a criticism of live chat during a game.
“Whilst we try to bring the viewer into the contest. We can’t forget it is a contest. Smith wasn’t comfortable and Kohli knew it,” one Twitter user wrote.
Another tweeted: “Kohli’s message to Steve Smith was pretty clear there. This is a cricket game not a television interview. Thanks, Channel 9.”
Batsman David Warner played down the controversy, saying it was not in the interests of Channel Nine to disrupt the players.
“I’ve been doing it all the time and I feel no added pressure,” Warner told reporters in Melbourne ahead of Friday’s T20 against India.
“It’s great that I can actually give people at home an indication of what we’re trying to achieve while we’re out there in different situations.”
“It’s about entertainment,” he added.
T20, a quick-fire, high-octane format, was designed to draw crowds to stadiums amid fears that spectators were tiring of longer formats such as five-day Tests.
Sports writer Robert Craddock said Smith’s dismissal raised the question of whether the T20 short-form structure was meant to be a carnival or a contest.
“Did it cost Australia the game? Possibly. If it happened in a Test match I would be punching a hole in my keyboard protesting at the farce of it all,” he wrote in Brisbane’s Courier Mail.
“But it was a T20 international and like the rest of the world, I am still trying to work out what these games actually mean.”