Thursday, 8 July 2010

Cricket 3D - The View from the Pub

I’ve watched cricket in some beautiful places. From the beer garden of the Bat and Ball Inn in Hambledon, beneath the pink cherry blossom at Maghull and of course the rose garden at Sefton Park. It’s safe to say Yates’ Wine Lodge on Allerton Road won’t be joining this list.

Still this was history in the making and with the extra enticement of the classic burger and a pint for £3.50 offer, I wandered over to the only pub in South Liverpool showing England playing Bangladesh in full 3D.

The initial signs weren’t good. A quick phone call to the pub brought the manager to the phone: “We’re on Sky’s website are we? I better have it on then – to be honest we don’t get much call for the cricket.”

Taking my seat about 3 m from the screen, I was heartened to see two other punters wearing glasses which they had paid a £5 deposit for. Mine had been ‘borrowed’ from a recent screening of ‘Avatar’.

Unsurprisingly, given the time of day and location the pair are students but even after a couple of beers they were unsure of whether this experiment with the third dimension was working.

“It needs a lot of work I think” said Matt Brown, 20. “The close ups work and when the fielders move towards you but the actual bowling which you think would be best, is pretty hopeless.”

He’s right. Like most things in cricket it seems to be a question of angles. Occasionally you’re left very impressed – the slow mo shots from mid off look great but then you realise you can’t see if Tamim Iqbal is out or not when he’s rapped on the leg.

Sky seemingly are using this game as an experiment and it shows. Players come in and out of focus and rather than show replays they keep reverting to wide, panoramic shots featuring Stuart Broad’s gangly frame at fine leg. Admittedly these look good but they are just fluff really. A further criticism comes with the ridiculous realisation that you can’t read the scorecard.

What does work is quite surprising. Hawkeye and the graphic projections of where balls are pitching jump out at you like arrows and the controversial Hawkeye actually gains something, making 3D an interesting future option for decision making.

Overall though, the experience is disappointing. The feeling remains that the lack of close ups and multi player action means cricket lacks the dynamic punch of football or rugby, a fact constantly brought home by many of the ad breaks featuring those sports.

“I think it’s got potential”, says doctor, Ben Thompson, who pops in for a pint after work. “They need to pick some of the angles that work and stick with them.”

A bit like Stuart Broad’s bowling really.

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