Cricket New Zealand: Jesse Ryder Tweets Up a Media Storm

Richard O'HaganCorrespondent IIFebruary 2, 2011

Jesse Ryder in a less controversial moment
Jesse Ryder in a less controversial momentMarty Melville/Getty Images

Jesse Ryder might not be playing for New Zealand against Pakistan at the moment, but that hasn't kept the all-rounder out of the spotlight.

What has caught the media's attention was Ryder's reaction to being run out by a team mate during a domestic game.

Normally, with an international series going on, these games slide so far below the radar you practically need sonar to detect them. However, Ryder took the unusual step of using his Twitter account (@JDRyder) to take a pop at his colleague.

That is not the thing that has caused the problem, though. After all, players criticising each other might be rare, but it is not exactly unheard of.

The problem, at least from the perspective of some players, is the way that the media in New Zealand seized upon the Twitter element and turned it into the story, rather than reporting upon it as incidental to the game itself.

Essentially, what the players want is to be able to use Twitter like everyone else, like you or I do, and the media don't like it. Current and former players, such as Scott Styris and Iain O'Brien, used their own Twitter accounts (@scottbstyris and @iainobrien) to weigh in in support of Ryder, whereupon some prominent New Zealand cricket writers responded in kind.

The most astonishing—and if we are being honest, arrogant—response came from Hayden Meikle of the Otago Daily Times, who criticised Styris and O'Brien for trying to tell him how to be a journalist, which is astonishingly rich coming from someone who earns his living telling cricketers how to play cricket.

What all of this tells us is that sport and the media still haven't got to grips with the "new media" of Twitter and, to a lesser extent, Facebook. In this context, O'Brien is something of a Twitter maven. One of the first players to have his own website, he was swift to realise that by interacting with his followers on Twitter, he could both boost his own profile and express his opinions without being reliant upon cricket writers.

Not every player has grasped the Twitter concept so readily. Much of Graeme Swann's "cheeky chappie" reputation derives from his banter on Twitter, particularly with England colleagues James Anderson and Tim Bresnan, but even he has yet to work out that Twitter communication is a two-way street.

You can find O'Brien's take on the story on his website and there is truth in what he says. The conventional media are scared of the implications of Twitter upon what they do.

Most have found ways to work with it, at least in part. It seems that New Zealand has some catching up to do.