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Low-flying Spidercam takes down sports player

Avid sports fans will be familiar with footage from a Spidercam, which sweeps in low over the athletes to provide a more dramatic view.

The footage may initially look as if it’s coming from a drone, but Spidercams are actually suspended from a network of cables placed directly over the field of play and use motorized winches to move around.

The technology has been in use for decades in various forms, and most of the time it captures the action without incident.

But earlier this week, Fox Sports’ Spidercam — dubbed the “Flying Fox” — hit the headlines after it crashed into South African cricket player Anrich Nortje, knocking him over in the process.

The incident took place on December 26 during a fixture between South Africa and Australia at the Melbourne Cricket Ground. Several other cameras around the ground caught the moment when the low-flying Spidercam slammed into Nortje. Luckily, the 29-year-old athlete wasn’t badly hurt.

Here’s the @FoxCricket Flying Fox / Spider Cam doing its bit to help the Aussie cricketers build a healthy lead against South Africa… 😬🎥 Hope the player it collided with (Nortje?) is okay! #AUSvSA pic.twitter.com/9cIcPS2AAq

— Ari (@arimansfield) December 27, 2022

Who said cricket isn’t a contact sport?

South African player Anrich Nortje hit by the aerial camera at the #BoxingDayTest

Meanwhile Warner has his century & Australia only two wickets down and 2 runs away from SA’s first innings total (Warner on 115 & Smith on 39) pic.twitter.com/ZafPYIJPue

— The Sage (@SarkySage) December 27, 2022

Asked later if he could’ve suffered a serious injury, Nortje said, “Definitely.”

In comments reported by The Age, the cricketer described what happened: “I saw cables and then I moved my head, and then I saw the camera and I was a little bit too late. It was quite quick. I didn’t know what really hit me, to be honest.”

Nortje said the camera “just knocked the shoulder and the elbow. The elbow’s a bit sore but otherwise seems to be OK. I’ll just monitor it [and] see how it goes with [the] doctor.”

Commenting specifically on Spidercam, Nortje added: “The one thing we’ve spoken about earlier is how low it is, and it probably shouldn’t be … unless for interviews or something. I don’t think it should be traveling at head height.”

A spokesperson for Cricket Australia described the mishap as “human error” and said Spidercam would be used, but with “additional measures.” Fox Sports has yet to comment.

In other bizarre incidents involving a similar type of camera, the contraption once fell onto a football field, narrowly missing one of the players, while a soccer goalkeeper once managed to strike the camera not once but twice in the space of just 20 seconds. And if you think drone cameras might do a better job, think again.

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