Kevin Pietersen has become the latest cricketer to be caught out on Twitter and could find himself in hot water with the ECB because of it.
We have highlighted the cases of several athletes around the world who have come a cropper recently and Peterson has shown that when the red mist descends then Twitter can be too easy to use.
With so many journalists using Twitter to gain latest scoops must have thought Christmas had come early when they saw this come up in Peterson’s stream. At the moment there are no rules as to when and where players can use social media, plus I imagine no training by the ECB, clubs or agents for their prized assets on the do’s and don’ts.
You will probably have seen/read that Pietersen found out he was to be dropped from the England team for the first time since his debut back in 2004. To say he wasn’t happy about it is an understatement as his tweet reveals although he has come out to say it should have been a direct message (DM) and not gone out into the public domain. It still doesnt excuse the language used.
It is generally understood that players are not allowed to comment about team squads until after the official announcement is made. This tweet came out several hours before and was soon picked up by blogs, new sites and TV across the globe.
Even though it was hastily removed it had already been seen, copied and pasted. These things are impossible to undo no matter if you hit the delete button or not.
After Azeem Rafiq’s ban and fine for abusing the England U19 team development manager on Twitter (plus being caught out late whilst on duty). There is no doubt that the ECB will have to take a tough stance with at least a fine.
Talk is about a new rule being brought in banning centrally contracted players from using social media on the Ashes tour this winter. The ECB claim to have reminded players before now about using social media responsibly, but how much training/education did they actually give?
This would be a massive over reaction but one you can see happening when you have technophobes such as Geoff Miller as an England National Selector. His reaction was unfortunately obvious;
“I don’t like that kind of language and I don’t use that language at all. I don’t follow Twitter and I’m not a great believer in that kind of thing. I don’t think it is necessary. I’m still the national selector and what I do is select sides with my co-selectors that we think is right for England. My priority is the England side and it is not about individuals.”
It doesn’t hold out much hope for the advocates of social media within the England team or ECB does it!
This shows a very archaic view compared to our cricketing compatriots in Australia who show a much deeper understanding of the benefits of its use.
Michael Brown, Cricket Australia’s operations manager, said there would be no social networking bans placed on the players. “At this stage it’s really important that we are about growing the game and embracing the future, and young people are a critical part of it,” he said. “We want young people to be associated with the game.” The coach Tim Nielsen has signed up to Twitter and even the team manager Steve Bernard is using it.
And captain Ricky Ponting is equally enthusiastic about the benefits, “You won’t see us banning our players from doing that sort of stuff,” he said at the team’s camp in Queensland. “It is your job as international players to promote the game and be the best you can for the game. If we can use social networks, if that brings people closer to the game, brings people through the gates to play, then that’s what it is all about.”
Ponting has 11,000 likes on his Facebook page and vice-captain Michael Clarke has 42,000 following his every tweet. Showing that they practice what they preach and see that for every slip and PR shocker there they are far outweighed by the use of social media for a better future.
“The biggest thing we face as international players is … everyone knows us with the helmet on but very few in Australia, or around the world, actually understand what we are like with the helmet off,” Ponting said. “If there are ways to express yourself then feel free to do that. I am totally all for that, as long as it is done the right way and within reason.”
What do you think the future for social media in cricket is and will the ECB typically over react to Pietersen’s comments?