If the reports coming out of the ICC are correct, cricket fans are set to suffer under new rules that will ban unauthorised media outlets from providing ball-by-ball descriptions of cricket matches, starting with next year’s World Cup in the Caribbean.

The council says that media organisations providing over-by-over coverage will be thrown out of World Cup grounds in the West Indies. This has presumably been done to appease the “official broadcast partners”, who have a fair case in arguing that competing media outlets benefit from the coverage they have paid for the right to provide.

This would obviously affect the mainly English newspaper sites that have made such a success of offering almost immediate descriptions of various sporting events around the world, including the current Ashes series.

London’s Guardian newspaper provides close to the best example of how something like this should be done. Freed of the constraints that might dog “official” and “authorised” sites, The Guardian‘s over-by-over analysis offers an unashamedly English-centric commentary of the events as they have unfolded during this Ashes series.

You can imagine the sort of stuff they came up with on that calamitous last day for the Poms, as Warnie and his mates took to destroying the lingering memories of their 2005 Ashes glory.

Among the many pearls offered on that fateful day was this description of keeper Geraint Jones’s dismissal midway through the afternoon sessions:

WICKET! England 94-6 (Jones c Hayden b Lee 10) I like Geraint Jones, but he has just played a truly disgusting shot. Filthy. Rancid. Minging. He had already edged a drive between second and fourth slip when he stretched for a really wide delivery from Lee, skewing it on the half-volley to Hayden at gully, who took a sharp catch. A brilliant catch, in fact. This is rapidly turning into England’s worst Ashes batting performance since Headingley 1989.

The ICC’s interest in this type of offering is proof that they can see the potential in developing the service, there is of course the fear that the more colourful sites may be forced to conform to the constraints of a site that is effectively under the control of the ICC or the relevant governing bodies in each country, such as Cricket Australia.

You only have to look at the reactions of the Australian players at last year’s Allan Border Medal to Phil Tufnell’s playful chiding to realise that the type of description listed above might not go down too well with the players when their own governing body is effectively sanctioning what is being said.

Peter Fray

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