Cricketer are tweeters! Blessed!

Experienced journalists tell me they’ve almost never heard the editor storm the floor of the office yelling “stop press!”, which seems to be a permanent fixture in all movies about newspapers. Wire services do have obituaries of prominent (and ageing) personalities ready to be published in case of any eventuality, but the number of times someone is wrongfully declared dead and has to say, “look at me, I’m clearly alive” are few and far between. But don’t be surprised if we now have to contend with news breaking through social networking websites like Facebook or Twitter. Let’s just say the Tweetbreak might become a thing of the future.

In cricket, which is largely a closed house, genuine news breaks are becoming few and far between. So when Australian opener Philip Hughes accidentally tweeted news of his dropping from the team for the third Test several hours before it was officially announced, it caused quite a stir.

Hughes, who tweets as PH408, posted: “Disappointed not to be on the field with the lads today. Will be supporting the guys, it’s a BIG test match 4 us. Thanks 4 all the support.” Since then, though, the Australian management team has gone into damage control mode. The assertion now is that Hughes didn’t actually post that message himself and rather it was his manager/agent Neil D’ Costa, who told the world of his axing. D’ Costs, who was in India at the time and co-ordinating with people back home in Australia lost track of the time difference from England, we are told.

But the inexperienced Hughes is by no means a pioneer, even as far as cricketers go. West Indies captain Chris Gayle has a huge following on Twitter, although his posts reveal little more than an annoying tendency to end every message with the word “Blessed!” On July 22, when the crisis between the West Indian board and its players was just about peaking, Gayle posted: “They not picking us for the first 2 games,so guess that sums up the situation!! They are the Boss playing hard Ball. (Sick ppl)” A few days later he was back to his charming self: “Heading to one of the biggest show in Jamaica- Reggae Sumfest( Dance hall Night) Blessed!!” and of course, the show took its toll: “Been sleeping all friday an saturday after Sumfest. Today is a bill back day!! Blessed.”

That most cricketers were active on Facebook was something we all knew. But Twitter? If it has caught on in India, we’re yet to hear of it. At a time when players guard their privacy and are deeply distrustful of the media, perhaps this is one avenue for them to stay directly in touch with their fans.

That is, of course, until one of them says something genuinely interesting, and a controversy brews.

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