bellefrappe

Your 2010/2011 Ashes Digital Digest

In Uncategorized on November 20, 2010 at 7:33 am

Brisbane. Excited yet? The Ashes are just days away. To be precise, four days, three days, two days…just use your Sky Sports countdown clock to keep up to speed, to the hour and the second. The clock is perhaps the most obvious little bit of digital content currently being served up by the cricket media ahead of the five match England vs Australia series. Here is a selection of other tasters from popular online sources.

PODCAST: The web is heavy with chat, as analysts put forward their trenchant views on four man bowling attacks and the wobbly Australian middle order – without fear, yet, of contradiction by actual facts. Cricinfo’s weekly podcast with the firm of Miller,McGlashan & Dutta is bouncy, opinionated and not too long. My pre-Ashes top pick, however, must be the Times’s pre tour discussion panel (3 x 20mins) which included such heavy weights as Michael Atherton, CMJ, Richard Hobson and the venerable John Woodcock, all good ‘voices’ with educated opinions. Woodcock (The Times cricket correspondent 1951-1988) is the star, thanks to his magnificent Edwardian tones and incomparable back catalogue of cricket tales (‘as Bradman once told me when we shared a taxi…’). Once the action is underway, Test Match Special’s end of day podcast with Jonathan Agnew and Geoff Boycott will be unmissable.

TWITTER: This is cricket’s new media of choice, thanks essentially to Kevin Pietersen’s twitter tantrum (twantrum?) after being dropped by England last August. KP’s output since then has all been Brylcream and adidas, but I will tune in if things go poorly for him Down Under. Instead, my top twitter recommendations would be a) Graeme Swann’s (Swannyg66), which is less frequent than KP’s (kevinpp24) but much funnier. And b) Agnew’s rather un-BBC musings and updates from the tour (Aggerscricket).

Where did it all go wrong?

Where did it all go wrong?

TV: Sky, of course. This is now available online live as well as via satellite services. The overall visuals and graphics are exemplary, but I find their commentary somewhat ponderous. Michael Holding is great in limited doses, but match him with Willis over a long wicketless spell and the sparks don’t fly.  Nasser is a terrific analyst but lacks the brevity and the bite of Simon Hughes. Botham is dull, as are Gower and Atherton. Together, there is an irksome pomposity about the output of the Sky commentary team, perfectly represented by their nauseating publicity poster. The Sky commentator we all want to listen to has to be HRH Shane Warne, preferably with Australian tottering at 95-6. I was amazed to read that Richie Benaud will be doing the Australian coverage for Channel 9. Lucky buggers. The value of non-Sky subscribers to the ECB is clear from the fact that with just one week to go, they hadn’t even decided where to place the Ashes free-to-air highlights package. ITV4 got it with 10pm slot, so too late for kids.

ONLINE VIDEO: Graeme Swann. What a theatrical lovey. He just cannot get enough camera time, as evidenced by his Ashes video blogs on the ghastly mess which is the ECB website. They are a bit patchy but the third one is hilarious. There is something about these productions which bug me…Oh yes, I remember. Isn’t Graeme Swann supposed to be a rather important cricketer? As in ‘The Man Who Can Win Us The Ashes’? Can’t all that Question of Strictly Celebrity Factor stuff be put on hold for a bit, please? As far as us fans are concerned, he has only one job this winter: taking 25+ wickets. For archive and nostalgia, the BBC’s Ashes TMS flashback is enormous fun.

WEBSITE: The old webpage now counts as traditional media. A browse through the Telegraph is uninspiring, as is the output of their correspondent Derek Pringle. The Guardian is enjoying a good phoney war, thanks to Steve Busfield’s minute-by-minute Ashes Update and the analysis of Duncan Fletcher. The BBC also go for the ‘real time’ Ashes coverage with their Ashes Countdown. The Times coverage (see podcast above) is voluminous and generally good quality but the new paywall is a huge obstacle. One unintended but  pleasant side effect is that their comments section is less blathery and more interesting, with regular posts by the columnists themselves. Cricinfo is good for reminding the Anglo Australian reader that there will be other cricket going on over next few months.

ASHES FREE ZONE: A salute to the Wisden Cricketer website, who’s front page glories in not one mention of the Ashes at all. A magnificent achievement, enhanced by an excellent article by Matthew Engel on cricket corruption in the sub-continent.

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