Wednesday, February 2, 2011

Social Media & The Cricketers

Recently there has been great debate over whether or not cricketers should use social media with this specific case involving Twitter. Now on Twitter I follow 123 people and 104 of those are current or former cricketers from Sachin Tendulkar to Ed Cowan so it's fair to say I have taken full advantage of the fact that I can communicate with my heroes through 140 characters or less.It's also fair to say I have seen all the scandals that come with these players. I saw Phil Hughes admit he was dropped on Twitter before he was supposed to, I have seen Kevin Pietersen blow up about being dropped, more recently the Warner-Geeves public fight and the cause of much of this current debate in New Zealand from the Jesse Ryder tweet stating being run out early in a domestic game for Wellington was "a waste of a day".

I fully agree with what Jesse is saying because it's not a shot at the domestic scene or his partner up and coming Stephen Murdoch but a shot at this 'rotation' policy. Jesse would have benefited far more from staying in the team environment and practicing rather than scoring 4 off 4 balls and then standing in the field for 46.2 overs. But this blog is not about the impracticalities of rotation but how this one tweet was blown grossly out of proportion. Ryder is a tremendous talent but a controversial one so if he does something noteworthy then it will become a story. Ryder was attacked by many reporters calling him "ungrateful" and so on it was pretty much the "I'm the future of New Zealand Cricket" all over again. Jesse Ryder is a player that many people will assume the worst of as they are waiting for the moment where he has done too much and can be pushed overboard a la Andrew Symonds but I have seen a far different side of him. At an Auckland-Wellington domestic twenty20 I saw him sign autographs for children for a good half an hour longer than any other player and was pleasant and caring, hardly the work of someone "ungrateful". All of this caused Jesse Ryder's tweeting to come under scrutiny and then cause him to consider deleting his account. I felt this would be a great shame as a cricket fanatic I love an insight into the dressing room of the game I love and with Ryder,Guptill, Southee, Taylor, and Styris I was getting great insight into the cliques of the dressing room and such.

I thought it was great to hear Ryder and Guptill having a bit of banter involving which one of them was 'Gincy' a term I'm still unfamiliar with but I found it great. Even last night Twitters amazing worth was proved as I was along with around a hundred other people were able to ask up and coming Victorian Aaron Finch a question of our choosing and through Twitter I have received other opportunities such as this with Ashes hero Graeme Swann which right there proves that the benefits of Twitter are available for all to see.

Twitter is not the only social media involved with cricket there are also some very good blogs around. In his playing days I used to wait frantically and impatiently like a child the night before Christmas for Iain O'Brien's latest witty insight into the life of a test cricketer. Here was a guy who had made it to the top level and was loving it as he was living his dream and so many others therefore he felt it his duty to help us see what it was like to be a top level cricketer from the abuse by Australian crowds to the heat of Bangladesh to telling Ricky Ponting he had "missed out big time". It was much like a cricket auto-biography (of which I own shelves and shelves) but in real time rather than hindsight. Tasmanian cricketer Brett Geeves also writes a blog which is humorous beyond belief. I loved to know what it was like for a cricketer to miss out on the majestic maiden first class century by just one run not once but twice. With the removal of cricketers in social media these are the things I would miss terribly.

Even Australia's prodigal son Michael Clarke is being given grief for his Twitter account as instead of posting griefs about his poor form (which now seems to have eased) he was trying to sort strange looking Steve Smith a date for the Allan Border Medal ceremony. These kind of insights are repaying the cricket public for their loyalty with direct insights into their lives and I think it is sad that so many journalists can forget that when they are in simple need of a story. I will continue to defend any forum in which a simple cricket fanatic such as myself can have a conversation with people who I have followed almost to a stalkerish level such as Iain O'Brien, Scott Styris or even Sachin Tendulkar. So please Guptill keep telling me where you will be eating that evening, all the Blackcaps have a dig at Scott Styris, Swann, Anderson and Bresnan keep making fun of Finn's haircuts cause quite frankly it is one of the best things that the advancement in technology has caused. To end with a quote I find all too applicable "Twitter turns heroes into real people" so please lets keep it that way.

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