Cricket: Jagger on the ball

Stephen Brenkley searches the World Wide Web for news of England's cricketers
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The Independent Online
Considering "Brown Sugar", not to mention "It's All Over Now" and "Jumping Jack Flash", it may be thought that Mick Jagger had contributed enough to the wellbeing of humanity. But no, there he has been this week with Jagged Internetworks.

This is not another raucous ditty to which the elegant, ageing rocker can gyrate (though, who knows, he may) but the only way in which it is possible to hear and see coverage of England's progress in the Champions' Trophy in Sharjah. Upon learning that neither radio nor television were covering the event live, Jagger, a lifelong cricket buff and in his day apparently a pretty mean bowler, decided to establish his own computer website. Thus, Jagged Internetworks was born.

This provides commentary on all matches in the tournament and a video highlights package after play. Welcome it is, too, if the Champions' Trophy is your cup of tea - and mid-December is when devotees are experiencing severe withdrawal symptoms - but it is not perfect. Its most glaring shortcoming yesterday as England made a rousing start was that it was not actually there. The cricket-starved population were greeted with the message: "We are sorry that the game you have requested is currently not available. Please try back later." It was to be 30 minutes before the commentary started, by which time West Indies had rallied.

The other weakness in the coverage, if one is to quibble, is that the commentary is for television. Unaccompanied as it is by immediate pictures on Jagged Internetworks this can make for confusing listening. You struggle genuinely to know, to borrow a phrase from the immortal Fred, what is going off out there. As for the pictures, when they arrive, they are slightly less well-defined than a pile of Lego at worst and slightly better than the jumbled celebrities' faces on A Question of Sport at best.

The sure-fire way of enjoying the mellifluous tones of Michael Holding, Sunil Gavaskar et al is to listen in tandem with the ball-by-ball scorecard. This is provided by CricInfo, the magnificent information servicethrough which access to Jagged Internetworks is gained.

It is a straightforward description of the action, though it is sometimes charmingly light-hearted. During England's match against India one ball was said to have been pulled to the midwicket fence with the later amendment: "Sorry, it was a cover drive! My apologies as a phone call bothers me." During the absence of commentary yesterday it was invaluable. As Dougie Brown bowled the first ball the description went up: "Out! Wow!"

These are pioneering days for live sport on the Internet. Jagger's initiative is to be commended but the service is as yet far from refined and until it is we might all suffer at least 19 nervous breakdowns.