South African fast bowler Anrich Nortje was lucky to escape serious injury after he was taken out by the 315kg ‘Spidercam’ suspended above the MCG during the Boxing Day Test. The towering 29-year-old quick was fielding in the outfield when the camera, which is suspended above the pitch by wires, struck him. Fans held their breath as Fox Sport’s camera went flying towards him, sending the South African flying as it hit him in the back.

The tearaway was given the all-clear for concussion and other injuries after an extended examination but was extremely luck he wasn’t seriously injured given the camera itself weighs 315kg and can go as fast as 33km/hr, according to specifications on the Spidercam company website. Fortunately, the unsuspecting fast bowler, who has toiled away for more than 12 overs of blistering speed, was able to get up, before being checked over by South African medical personnel. 

‘Nortje walking quietly to his spot…then bang,’ Seven commentator James Brayshaw said on the broadcast as the event was played back. ‘That should not be happening.’ Footage from the Spidercam itself also captured the moment of impact, which was severe enough to show a big jolt and knock the camera off its flight path.

‘Fox Sport getting one back at SuperSport. You spot our cricketers with sandpaper, (so) we knock yours out with Spidercam,’ the tweet read. One suggested Spidercam was as Australian as they come, such was the camera’s penchant for cutting down someone in their prime. 

Memes were quick to fly on social media over the unbelievable scenes, but many could not agree on whether the incident was hilarious, dangerous or just plain unacceptable.  One popular cricket account jokingly suggested it might be payback for the infamous Sandpapergate in South Africa four years ago. 

‘Anrich Nortje just bowled one of the quickest spells in Australia. Naturally with our tall poppy syndrome, he’s just been poleaxed by the Spidercam,’ the fan tweeted.  ‘Who said cricket isn’t a contact sport?’, one wrote, while cult cricket identity Dan Liebke took it a step further.  

‘Oh, so now the woke left are cancelling SpiderCam just because it’s out of control and crashing into cricketers. Grow up. Dozy fielders oblivious to the prospect of flying robots are ruining the sport. If anything, there should be MORE drones launching blindside attacks,’ the cult hero joked. 

‘Why are you hitting players with the Spidercam? Unacceptable,’ a fed-up supporter said. Fortunately, after staff attended to the camera after the incident, many fans present at the game indicated it had been taken out of action and banished to the sideline. On the back of David Warner’s heroic 200, Australia are in a commanding position with three days still remaining in the Test.  

Others did not think the situation was amusing, given the potential for very serious injuries. ‘Call me humourless (maybe it’s the heat) but I don’t find the SpiderCam thing funny. The ground is the players’ domain — it should be sacrosanct. What happened was unacceptable and warrants sanction. What if it got him in the head? Or neck?’ prominent writer Andrew Faulkner shared on social media. 


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