The Twitter GenerationMartyn Corrin |
By Stuart Appleby
For all of crickets contemporary, twenty-first century media coverage where game changing technology, unlimited access to the international game and endless opportunities for an army of cricketing journalists to quiz the chosen players in focus for their on-field antics, few would have predicted how prudent and newsworthy personal information exude on social networking website, Twitter, would be to the wider cricketing public.
In an era where player-power frequently dominates in many sports, two English cricketers have been punished for two overtly worded Tweets possibly suggesting the age of online social interaction should be used with caution and common sense by those in positions of exposure.
The well documented fall from Test Match batting grace of England’s middle-order batter Kevin Pietersen of late was compounded too last week when the South Africa born player uploaded a reckless Tweet outburst showing his anguish to England’s selecting panel following his omission from the two short-form work-outs (Twenty20 and ODI series) against a beleaguered Pakistan this September. The 30 year-old, was later summoned to an apology and a fine at a Lords Disciplinary hearing, but although you may come to expect a candid remark from the egomaniac on loan Surrey batsman, it is a sign anti-social discontent should not mix in a professional, marked arena.
It would appear old fashioned of me, to say professional sportsman shouldn’t detail to their many fans (or followers in the Twitter world) what they do with themselves on a daily basis, but they need to grasp the sense of responsibility, donning an England shirt or captaining a county side brings. One potent point, which can maybe be offered as a balancing act underlining what terms players should have to adhere to is that team matters/affairs should not be publicised to the watching world, but the light hearted nonsense of a serial Tweeter, such as spin ace Graeme Swann, passes the acid test for all his online lunacy.
Hampshire captain Dimitri Mascarenhas answers my point right on cue. The incumbently injured former England one-day international player whose choice to reach for the mega buck earnings of the Indian Premier League wiped out his domestic season with a ruptured Achilles has been the latest player to face the music, as it were. The all-rounder’s early hour Tweet, featuring an unrepeatable dose of obscenity aimed at National Selector Geoff Miller gave the tabloid writers a field day, but as for Mascarenhas a ?1,000 fine, a red-faced apology and the notion if ever there was a rubber stamp of disapproval on the end of an England career, there is now. It has to be said, this is out of character for a player respected in the games inner sanctums, nevertheless it serves up a timely reminder of the unsociable quandaries the use of Twitter exposure elevates, normally striking the guilty party vociferously in the pocket, or an unwanted blemish tarred over a respected cricketing CV.
The wholesale media convergence of an internet fixation like Twitter has this year announced itself as a regular fixture in sport reports, newspaper gossip and on the handsets of many sportsmen, not just cricketers. If used in the right manner, the benefits of this user friendly interchange are remarkable. Though, now, the cricketing role models whom have become caught up in the latest ‘must have gadget’ need to now explicitly reverberate a message of watchfulness to other players sharing content, because what could be seen as a harmless remark can soon be frowned upon improbably. Just ask England under-19 cricketer Azeem Rafiq, whose explosion (albeit glossed in controversy) over a selection issue means momentarily his fledging international career takes a less than provincial back-seat.
Cricket and Tweeting? Probably a Tweet not match made in heaven.