Cricket on the Internet

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The Independent Online

The NatWest Trophy semi-finals and the release of the first report by the King Commission into corruption and match-fixing in Cape Town have been keeping cricket web sites busy in recent times.

The NatWest Trophy semi-finals and the release of the first report by the King Commission into corruption and match-fixing in Cape Town have been keeping cricket web sites busy in recent times.

Thursday's Fourth Test at Headingley between England and the West Indies is an extra reason for even fair-weather cricket fans to get online and check out the news.

Once that meant calling up the Lord's official site. Not any more. It has ceased to be - at least in its previous one-stop covers all bases format.

The old page now redirects visitors looking for information about MCC or Lord's cricket ground to a site hosted on uk.cricket.org servers. Seekers after live scores, news, and audio are directed to the England and Wales Cricket Board site, ECB.co.uk, which formerly shared server space with Lord's.

It takes over the bulk of the old site's features, using CricInfo.com's resources to provide comprehensive news reports, live scorecards, fixtures, player profiles, records and stats. It's good on the county scene, the women's game and internationals.

The cricket channel with video highlights and live audio commentary is the ideal place to head for if you get free internet calls and want to spend some time with the latest incarnation of RealPlayer streaming software looking at, and listening to, a variety of subjects, from player's views on the county season so far to skills coaching and playing techniques.

A sizeable presence is the fan-oriented pages - chat rooms, fantasy games, message boards, links to TV and radio listings, ticket availability, and an e-mail facility that allows messages to be sent to the England team as a whole or to named players.

Alternatively, you could e-mail the "Barmy Army" through their web site and hone your irony skills. England's "Barmy Army" mission statement is "to make watching cricket more fun and much more popular".

They have certainly made an impact with their support of touring England teams, and after five years of trying they have been allocated tickets for Test grounds (except Lord's), including Headingley on Saturday and Sunday. Song lyrics are on site, along with a history of the trademarked organisation, links to kindred sites, a message board and an e-mail list that can be subscribed to.

Cricket Worldwide is an interesting, but undeveloped, halfway house between professional and amateur sites. It's open to contributions from anyone, and it doesn't just solicit contributions either, it guarantees they will be run on site - which is brave, foolish, or getting back to the democratic roots of the internet.

Unfortunately, it's an invitation that seems largely to have been ignored. User views are conspicuous by their absence. The organisation of what content there is is straightforward, typically by country and tour, with links to content thrown up en route.

Information hardly qualifies as up to date (one of the banner ads has an error message saying it ceased to be supported six months ago), but it's a site that may be worth checking on every now and then to see if it does spring to life.

andy.oldfield@virgin.net

Site Addresses

ECB.co.uk http://www.ecb.co.uk/redirect.html

England's Barmy Army http://www.barmy-army.com/

Cricket Worldwide http://www.solcities.com/sports/cricket/

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