Steve Smith has made his cricket commentary debut in a peculiar appearance via hologram for the start of the Indian Premier League on Friday.
The star Australian batter announced earlier this week he would be taking part in the T20 tournament, revealing he would be “joining an exceptional and talented team”.
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The vague announcement sparked speculation that he could be commentating, given he hadn’t signed to play with any team in the IPL.
That proved to be the case when Smith appeared alongside fellow Australians Tom Moody and Aaron Finch in Star Sports’ pre-match coverage in a studio in India.
But while Moody and Finch were there in person, Smith wasn’t physically there and appeared as a hologram.
The unusual TV experiment was received well by cricket fans, who joked that Smith looked more lifelike via hologram than he did in his awkward video announcement.
Earlier on Friday, Star Sports announced Smith would be involvement in the network’s commentary of the lucrative IPL, ending the mystery about his return to the event.
“Steve Smith has joined the expert panel for the marquee tournament. Smith will be making his broadcast debut with Star Sports, adding his invaluable insights and expertise to Star Sports’ already impressive roster of panellists,” Star Sports said.
The 16th edition of the cash-rich Twenty20 extravaganza began in Ahmedabad, with 10 teams and a host of global stars in attendance for the eight-week tournament.
Smith, 33, announced his return to the tournament on Twitter on Monday, saying in a teaser video: “Namaste, India. I’ve got some exciting news for you: I’m joining IPL 2023.”
That post sparked speculation he might return to the tournament as a player.
The video drew considerable mirth on social media for Smith’s robot-like performance in the 15-second clip, during which he didn’t blink.
“DON’T blink if you’re being held at gunpoint,” one Twitter user quipped.
Another fan advised Smith, who recently led Australia in two Tests and three one-day internationals in India, to use his bat and not the microphone on his Indian return.
Smith last played for the Delhi Capitals in the lucrative IPL in 2021 before he went unsold in the auction for the following season.
The star batsman kept himself out of this season’s mini-auction in December but can be picked up as an injury replacement by any team.
From time to time around the Oval press box, little English-accented groans of annoyance burbled through the quiet. “Oh God. Here we go again.” Steve Smith
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