Cricket on the Internet

The domestic first-class cricket season gets underway on Friday when Oxford and Cambridge meet Somerset and Lancashire the week before the Benson and Hedges Cup starts, and two weeks before the County Championship begins.

The domestic first-class cricket season gets underway on Friday when Oxford and Cambridge meet Somerset and Lancashire the week before the Benson and Hedges Cup starts, and two weeks before the County Championship begins.

The Lord's website last season usually proved a reliable and informative resource, using in-depth features, news, live scores, and audio clips to cover the game at all levels. Virtual tours, webcams and e-commerce facilities were all in place too and will be expanded. Among the one-stop cricket websites it is a pace setter and on past form probably deserves to be the first port of call on the Web for any fan of the domestic game.

One unwelcome development at Lords' is the use of pop-up advertising windows. The best that can be said of these desktop cluttering devices is that their presence can enhance users' keyboard skills, offering them a chance to practice mouse work by hitting the close button before the text and graphics have had a chance to load.

The promise of live scores, fixtures and results are an obvious draw at Cricket Unlimited. However, if you want to check out this season's fixtures, you might be disappointed if you click on the fixtures and results link - the lack of domestic first class fixtures in April when the site was visited last week is presumably something that will be rectified in time for the start of the season. However, the separate "Season 2000" link buried at the bottom of the page does lead to a county-by-county fixture list.

There are no problems with the breaking news service, which is solid stuff picked up from the Press Association. The features, individually accessible from the home page rather than from a generic link, are also strong, drawing on the resources of The Guardian newspaper. Stories contain links to related stories on the site. Sometimes these are too closely related. A story about the Australian fast bowler Brett Lee last week was linked to itself.

The strongest attraction is probably that the online edition of Wisden shares Web space with the site, and is integrated into its structure. That alone will probably be reason enough for the site to find its way on to the favourites list of many browsers.

The Press Association cricket section at the PA News Centre is a standard port of call for information, live scores and assorted scoreboard formats. The familiar lay-out and presentation should still be online for the university matches and the opening Benson and Hedges fixtures, but the site is then due for an extensive revamp with the cyberbabe (or "personal information assistant" in geek-speak) Ananova scheduled to preside over a new look.

Already some PA sport features, such as the fixtures for the week ahead, have been withdrawn. Traditionalists are advised to get their fill of the old style coverage while they can.

andy.oldfield@virgin.net

Site Addresses

Lord's The Home Of Cricket www.lords.org/

Cricket Unlimited www.cricketunlimited.co.uk/

PA NewsCentre: Cricket www.pa.press.net/sport/cricket/

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