Caught Behind: How will the Ashes play out over social media in Australia this winter?

If cricket and social media appear in the same sentence Kevin Pietersen’s hashtags won’t be far away.


@KP24 certainly wears his heart on his sleeve across the Twittersphere. His most recent newsworthy Tweets are that he is openly inviting Australian banter on his Twitter page. Whilst compatriot all-rounder Stuart Broad would prefer not to get entangled in such a sledging match following comments made by Darren Lehman as a result of Broad’s decision not to walk after he edged Australia spinner Ashton Agar to slip during last summer’s first Ashes Test at Trent Bridge:-

“I just hope everyone gets stuck into him because the way he’s carried on and the way he’s commented in public about it, it is ridiculous. He hit it to first slip … and the biggest problem there is the poor umpire cops all the crap that he gets in paper and Stuart Broad makes them look like fools.”

The decision review system (DRS) caused a great deal of controversy over the summer as the umpire missed Broad’s obvious edge to slip at a pivotal point in the first test, however the Australian’s had run out of reviews. This decision was compounded by the fate of Usman Khawaja when the third umpire failed to overturn an erroneous decision to give Khawaja out. Australia’s prime minster at the time Kevin Rudd, took to Twitter to describe the decision as:-

“…One of the worst umpiring decisions I have ever seen”

The Ashes summer series in England was witness to more controversy across Twitter and this time it involved Kevin Pietersen. For once the outspoken batsman was not in trouble for his own tweets rather he was the victim of defamatory comment from high street optician Specsavers who took to Twitter to release an advert with a hot spot image from the test series, with Pietersen playing and missing coupled with the statement:-

“Bat tampering in the #Ashes? Apparently Hot Spot should’ve gone to Specsavers.”

The Hot Spot technology uses heat sensors to assist third umpire in making their decision as to whether any contact has been made by the ball with bat or pad. However the fallibility of the system prompted allegations that batsmen were applying silicon tape and petroleum jelly to the edges of their bats to conceal any contact with the ball. Pietersen accepted substantial undisclosed libel damages as a result of a court ruling which found against the Specsavers advert, which implied that he may have tampered with his bat during the Ashes. Hot Spot will not be used in the winter Ashes series as Australia’s host broadcaster Channel Nine have so far failed to agree a financial package with Hot Spot’s owners, BBG.

The third umpire will now have left at his disposal, the ball-tracking system; Hawk-Eye, Audio from stump microphones and slow-motion replays. The more reliable snick-o-meter, desirable as it is, doesn’t warrant inclusion for this winter’s series as the time delay in returning a decision is currently took long for the International Cricket Council.

The Ashes down under is bound to be full of controversy again with former Australian spinner Shane Warne having already stoked the fire earlier this week, openly criticising England captain, Alastair Cook’s leadership style. With the 8/9 hour time delay Twitter will be the source of the most up to date information for England cricket fans, with drama a certainty, hash tags at the ready for what promises to be a scintillating series.

Anthony McGrath – Sports Consultant