Thursday, June 28, 2007

It gets better

Its a rare day when one gets email from the Managing Editor of Cricinfo (who sounds like a very young and defensive man). Here is our latest exchange. Martin Williamson responds:
Thanks for the mail.Just because we are a global website does not mean that every article has to be regionalised or qualified. Not does it have to cover the whole world. That would be unworkable and unnecessary. I am suitable impressed that you are an academic. However, your argument does not hold water and the article, and the brief for it, was never to find instances from across the world. I will be more than happy to write a follow-up with XI more from other countries. I will set about that straight away! I appreciate that you consider my writing and approach unprofessional but, with respect, do not really need to be told what standards to aim for and would not make any attempt to lecture you, a complete stranger, on how best to carry out your chosen career.
And I wrote back:
Martin, Charming attitude for the Managing Editor of Cricinfo. Please read your second paragraph again, and I suggest you then put it on your website's home page. I'm sure all us "perfect strangers", the readers and users of your website, that have made it the hot property that it is (ESPN did buy you guys out, right?) will find it very edifying. Since you are impressed by me being an academic, I suggest a little homework for you: try explaining why my argument doesn't hold water. Please do. And please explain why a more descriptive title for the article is so hard for you. By the way, check out the column that preceded yours. Animal Antics, the one you wrote with Andrew Miller.10 of out these 11 instances involve cricket played in, or by England. This is like shooting fish in a barrel. Would you please make a decent point so that I can expend some energy in trying to refute it? Lastly, if you want feedback, be prepared for criticism and 'advice'. Otherwise, disable that page, and put up a button that says "Click here to send hosannas, bouquets, and hurrahs".

Cheers,
Samir

11 Comments:

Anonymous gana said...

Sameer,
I hope you continue to comment on this attitude. I have been following your blog for quite some time and it is worth subscribing to.

1:03 AM  
Blogger Cricket Guru said...

In case you are following this up to its logical end, here are three more instances of match being disrupted due to non cricketing reasons:

1) Sand Storm
This was the famous 'Sachin' semifinal against Australia on 22.04.1998, at Sharjah

2) Death:
THe third test (and with it the series)between India and Pakistan was abaondoned due to PM Indira Gandhi's assassination.

3) Crowd Trouble:
The crowd trouble was not because of India's below par performance, but because they felt the organisers had over sold the tickets. The match in question was either against Australia or England (I am not sure of the opponents) and was played at Eden Gardens in 1964. It was left to Frank Worrell (who was in India for academic purpose) to mediate successfully. The match resumed after a day's break.

2:27 AM  
Blogger Samir Chopra said...

Gana,

Thanks for the comment; I've sent in comments to this effect before to Cricinfo, and invariably, the response has been very defensive. I fail to understand why. They're getting feedback, and whatever their assessment of how practical it might be to implement some of the changes that are suggested, it behooves them to behave professionally. Instead, Williamson responded the way a callow schoolboy would, offended that anyone had dared question his journalistic skills.

Samir

9:01 AM  
Blogger Samir Chopra said...

Cricket Guru, I think the match you are referring to was Eden Gardens in 1967. Calcutta also saw riots in 1969-70 series when Lawry's Aussies. But I think riots as a category (for interruptions) was covered by Cricinfo a while ago.

In any case, I'm hoping more folks read this email exchange, and see if my perceptions of the content over at Cricinfo agree with theirs. (Sfx and Homer linked to these posts, so hopefully some folks will read it over there as well).

9:12 AM  
Anonymous Sfx said...

The first test I ever saw - India v Pakistan in Bangalore - 1979

http://www.cricinfo.com/db/ARCHIVE/1970S/1979-80/PAK_IN_IND/PAK_IND_T1_21-26NOV1979.html

Gothoskar and Swaroop Kishen were the Umpires , I remember clearly. Swaroop Kishen was a huge fella and the game was interrupted cos there was a invasion by a swarm of bees. I kid you not. All the players went horizontal and lay down flat for a good 10-15 mins till there was an all clear....

Cheers...

10:03 AM  
Blogger Prabu said...

I've been writing to them about how English centric they have become for a while now and it still doesn't stop. Check, for instance, the number of quotes from English / Aus cricket in the quotes section and you will think that nobody anywhere is saying anything about cricket!

Cricinfo has become more Wisden that Cricinfo but ESPN buying them may steer 'em back towards a more global approach to cricket reporting. Let us wait and see...

2:44 PM  
Blogger Superunknown said...

Samir,

I have mentioned your post regarding cricinfo at this place :

http://willowandleatherblog.blogspot.com/2007/07/cricinfo-s-english-centric-coverage.html

If need be you can create a link to this post in your space. I cant agree more with you and in my blog post, I have cited few more instances of England centric coverage even when other countries were mentioned. Notably so when last week, an article on 75 years of Indian Test cricket appeared, the squad that got mention was to the England tour of 1932.

3:34 AM  
Anonymous Daniel Ashford said...

Dear Samir,

THANK YOU!!!

I have been trying to get whoever does the All Todays Yesterdays column for Cricinfo to update his information yearly and try wherever possible to include different material for every month, or at the very least update the information it copies from the previous year.

I constantly pointed out small mistakes and errors without ever trying to attack the journalist or the site (at least in the beginning), and received the same generic apologies and responses and promises it wont happen again and in future the column would be maintained frequently.

It was March 2006 and India were hosting a rabble of an England line-up and looked like taking the series 2-0 going into Mumbai, with India having both its world-class spinners playing together on a notoriously turning track. India had an old fat bald county no-name called Shaun Udal to deal with. Tendulkar ate Warnes spin up like a lion feasting on a carcass, this was going to be embarassing for this poor old man. AND it was his birthday on the first day, thankfully England batted and he could relax on his 36th birthday. The Indian middle order would kill him tomorrow. Well as we all know Shaun Udal became very famous, if only for 5 minutes, castling the little master. Tendulkar bowled Udal would be etched into history forever. Udal's International career was changed forever. NOT TO CRICINFO.

Now i understand the Test started on his birthday, but if these columnists are so in touch with the English game why was this March 18, 2007's, All Todays Yesterdays

1969
If Craig White was proof of Ray Illingworth's eye for a cricketer, then Shaun Udal, who was born today, was the one that got away. In his BBC commentary role, Illingworth waxed lyrical about Udal's action for years, then picked him for his first game in charge, when Udal responded tidily with 2 for 39 in the one-dayer against New Zealand at Edgbaston in 1994. He went on the following winter's Ashes tour, but that would be as close as Udal would get to a Test appearance, as Illingworth turned instead to his namesake, Richard, and Mike Watkinson.

If you go back and read it now the piece has been altered with the Mumbai Test information added. (no mention of clean bowling one of the best players of spin bowling in cricket history though).

I didnt receive a thanks for the help, not even a thanks for the feedback. Instead I had some journo rip into me about the fact Im not a professional and have no idea the time put into the website.
Obviously they dont have enough time to read 4 or 5 paragraphs a day of information they provide to the public, which is then believed to be fact. I still frequent the site because lets face it, the databases of information are second to none, but the little things are grossly neglected, such as customer care and just plain old manners.

The stuffy old Pommy bastards should put their monacles in their eye and take a look at what they are providing. I am 100% sure the subcontinent would be at least 75% of Cricinfo's fanbase. I am from Australia but can confidently say I share the same passion as you all. I dont just love the game, I am chronically obsessed with it and have more knowledge of cricket than any person I have ever met that was not born in Bangladesh, Pakistan, Sri Lanka or India so I agree that the Cricinfo XIs need to be compiled by someone with global knowledge of the game, at the very least BASIC knowledge about the other 9 Test countries cricketing history.

Sorry I'm English is a lame excuse, It's exactly the same excuse they have when people say, "why are you so crap at cricket?"

12:40 PM  
Blogger Samir Chopra said...

Prabu,

If I get the time, I will try and post a follow-up explaining why this issue exercised me so. Thanks for your comment!

Samir

1:01 PM  
Blogger Samir Chopra said...

Superunknown, thanks for linking. I'm glad you found some resonance in the exchange - I plan to keep writing in to Cricinfo whenever the opportunity arises (I don't think it will take too long!).

Cheers,
Samir

1:02 PM  
Blogger Samir Chopra said...

Daniel,

You are welcome. I wondered if I've overreacted but honestly, given the importance that Cricinfo has in the cricketing world, this sort of critique has to be expected by the CI staff. Your story is quite a tale. Not very pucca on their part, what? CI still has the best archives and databases - thats their best value. For writing, theres tons out there that is as good, if not better (I think the Indian crop of Bal, Premchandran et al is actually a touch above the English writers in that stable).

Please do keep writing on the blog. Looking forward to hearing from you again.

Cheers,
Samir

1:08 PM  

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