Sydney: What is a bird's-eye view worth? That's the question television executives and cricket officials were confronted with Thursday after a camera suspended above the field distracted Australia captain Steve Smith as he attempted to take a catch during the fourth test against India at the Sydney Cricket Ground.
India opener Lokesh Rahul, on 46, skied a Shane Watson delivery high in the air behind the stumps, just before the lunch interval. Smith ran back from slip to take the catch but reacted angrily after putting down the chance, pointing toward the wires of the aerial camera.
Smith was immediately seen to mouth a profanity followed by the word 'wire' and was still gesticulating a few overs later when briefly discussing the incident with umpire Richard Kettleborough.
Rahul, who was on 46 at the time of the dropped catch, reached his maiden test century shortly before tea and was finally dismissed for 110 after the interval.
A joint statement from Cricket Australia and host broadcaster, the Nine Network, which appeared on the Cricket Australia website confirmed that Smith had been distracted by one of the wires.
"We (Cricket Australia & Nine) have spoken about the matter involving Spidercam and the dropped catch before lunch and it's clear the ball did not hit the camera or its supporting wires," the joint statement read. "Captain Steve Smith was distracted by one of the wires in his eye line."
"Both CA and Nine will continue to work together on the use of Spidercam in the broadcast coverage and will take on board any player feedback as necessary."
"As it stands, if any player has a concern about the placement of Spidercam they can ask the umpires for it to be moved."
The camera, which is suspended from wires attached to light towers and can maneuver over the playing area at varying heights, was subsequently moved away from play, near the boundary rope.
"It wasn't ideal where it was positioned for that particular ball," Australia coach Darren Lehmann said.
"I like watching it, but they have to get the position right when the bowlers bowling, particularly on the off-side, which we are speaking to Channel Nine about."