Wednesday, 12 June 2013

The amateur cricketer and the perils of Twitter

As a part of my job, I am a ‘cricket analyst’. In reality, this means as well as driving a minibus for away matches, I assist the cricket professional by doing some coaching tasks such as some filming of bowling actions and batting shots to attempt to use a sophisticated programme on the iPad to make some sense of when individuals
are getting it wrong.

I also work with a program called NX Cricket HD that is used by the 1st XI scorer - a Year 12 pupil who has the amazing ability to play FIFA, score a match on the iPad and produce toasted ham and cheese sandwiches simultaneously. He is a remarkable young man and like Michael Heseltine, another former pupil of the school, will surely make his first million before the age of 25. This scoring program allows me to further analyse bowlers and batsman by looking at the areas where runs are scored and conceded, allowing me to discuss with bowlers and the captain where to place fielders as well as passing on data to the counties where many of them are academy members.

During games, I often spend my time on social media sites, especially Twitter, tweeting latest scores to our 500 followers (mainly pupils and families of school cricketers). I did spend most of last season posting tweets of cricketing milestones like “Wow – 262 followers – 262 runs were scored by Dennis Amiss in saving a test in Kingston, Jamaica in 1973/74”. The problem is now I’m running out of milestones; 501
is the last well known one and not for a type of Levi jeans popular in the 1980's. I suppose I will have to resort to researching Cricinfo and find records of England innings totals or bizarre totals recorded by England players (538 – number of balls bowled by John Snow in One Day Internationals).

My tweets during games are fairly bland and informative such as “Another wicket for Smith – 38/2 in the 10th over”, as I have to stick to a ‘code of conduct’ issued by our IT department though I have been jokingly accused by one of our players of bullying. I also spend my some time following the exploits of recent former pupils, some of whom are playing the game professionally and in one case trying to champion the cause for one of them to increase his tally of two England caps. A recent tweet
involving the grandson of a former England captain, of “Fred Bloggs goes LBW for 0 – first ball of the game” was favourited by most of his team-mates and bizarrely, a number of divorcees from the USA.

Another of our 1st teamers entered in to an ‘online banter exchange’ with friends from his former school, only for us to be drawn against them in the national schools T20 competition. When he ran himself out in the 1st over of our innings, the celebrations amongst his former team-mates weren’t exactly muted and at least half of them later re-tweeted my tweet to tell the world he had run himself out.

A few professional cricketers have got into trouble with their antics with texts and on social media sites – most famously Kevin Pietersen and Suresh Raina- but even in the amateur game, the authorities have been forced to issue a social media policy for club members. Leagues and clubs the length and breadth of the land now have social media policies policed by club welfare officers.

I know of plenty of amateur cricketers who have fallen foul of social media regulations with their tweets. A former member of my club declared to all of his followers that he had conned an umpire into making the wrong decision and was ultimately reported by his club’s welfare officer that resulted in a suspended ban for the rest of that season. I would like to have been a fly on the wall the next time they took the field together.

Likewise, I know of an umpiring colleague, who complained about a captain’s poor behaviour on the field on Twitter to another colleague. This was re-tweeted by a follower of both of the umpires that then got out into the public domain and the miscreant captain then threatened to sue the umpire for slander! Currently, one ECB Premier League in the North of England is trying to track down the originator of a ‘banter’ twitter account that is criticising management committee members, clubs
that employ professionals and rather unfairly, those clubs whose wickets are aligned east to west.

I suppose that if we if we learn anything as cricketers we should restrict our tweeting to things that won’t get us into hot water and what we would get away with on the field. Fortunately, we can’t take our phones and tablets on to the field at the moment otherwise there might be a few tweets declaring the ineptitude of opposition batsmen wit “put a bell in the ball!” and “well left!” especially when the batsman has just played and missed at 4 consecutive deliveries."

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