It is almost incredible that the world of cricket media fails to see beyond what’s with the experts.
Numerous debates on the future of television coverage have raged the TV and Internet space only to see predictable conclusions in the form of pay-per-view and HD television as its future.
But I cannot fathom why there isn’t enough importance given to a whole lot of discussion, analysis and literature to what the non-experts' section of the cricket world has to offer.
Largely, it is a pile of waste that comes out postgame on TV or in the press.
Cricinfo is among the most sought after sources of information for fans who want more than what they get on TV: pods, humour, debates being most prominent among them.
Even then, Cricinfo still throws a large amount of the same rubbish all other forms of media do: Prematch predictions (templated and boringly predictable), sound bites, injury rumours, and of course, a whole host of ex-cricketers not worth an ounce as experts.
It is beyond doubt that some of the best cricket analysis comes from bloggers.
Perhaps because these are people who enjoy watching the game and are in no hurry to meet a deadline.
Often these articles and opinions are far more interesting as they tend to have different flavours of perspective. Largely intelligent and even successful people of various counts of life are able to relate to various events on the game that sometimes escape even seasoned experts and journalists.
blogs, pods and tweets the future of cricket coverage?
It is hardly surprising that pods like Test Match Sofa or Test Match Special are a lot more enjoyable today than a group of great ex-cricketers who give you the score every second ball or call an ingenious Laxman flick with a sponsor prefix to it.
Maybe a day is not far off when technological advancements make inroads into television coverage where a bunch of people from across the globe connect to call the action, and those who prefer their version over the official version can choose to listen to it.
I would take—any day—Andy Zaltzman cussing at a piece of action over an ex-cricket saying “he’s only gonna get better with age” every time he sees a promising youngster.
Recently, there have been stories of journalists not being too happy with cricketers' tweeting. Some seem to think cricketers have now taken over their jobs. Some recently have been offended by cricketers tweeting about their writing.
Ryder and Swan are a lot more fun with their tweets than many of the journalists taking offense to their comments. Maybe, for lesser spontaneous cricketers, they can try becoming their ghost tweeters. Much of today's cricket journalism is bland.
Today's writing largely remains as ancient as it was decades ago when newspapers recounted the day’s events when live action didn’t reach the majority, and as a result, the writer unfolding the sequence of events would paint the game for readers.
It is a largely different world today where instant tweets have become the norm (not to mention cricket coverage on phones and over broadband).
Maybe, that is why slightly unorthodox, but mighty fine observers like Andy Zaltzman are entertaining and sought after. Great captains of yore who read the game well and inform of the likelihood of events to unfold still hold fort.
Still, opinion columns are predictable and so are postgame analysis. Maybe they are going the way of player interviews—repeats of the same thing time and again.
Our experts ask the same questions. The players give the same answers. The writers write the same things.
No wonder the consumer feels cheated.
Not sure if am being callous here. But I do believe that the best coverage out there is by the fans—amateurs who do it for fun and hobby, but with as much dedication and application as the pros.
Talented bloggers like Arnab Ray (Great Bong), Adam Wakefield (Bleacher Report and often in the Inbox section of Cricinfo), Subash Jayaraman (Cricket Couch), John vd Westhuizen (Cricket Guru), Brendon Layton (The Straight Bat) will provide interesting views to rival the best that goes around everywhere else.
Of course, cricketwithballs, boredcricketcrazyindians, thealternativecricketalmanack keep us all entertained with their brand of cricket literature. And I hope that the best of our tweeting cricketers continue to keep us all entertained with information their boards and press don’t want them to give us.
As much as a World Cup, it is going to be of Bhogle, Chappell, Boycott, Roebuck, Baum, Booth and Houwing, I will keep my eyes open for the best blogs, pods and tweets.
And maybe, some of you will check out this space for more.