Sport on the Internet

CRICKET'S NATWEST Trophy reaches a West Country climax at the weekend when Gloucestershire and Somerset meet in the final. Lord's is the venue in real life. On the Web its site should attract the majority of traffic for the event.

Before the season started, Lord's set out its stall, promising live updated scoreboards, Web radio, comprehensive news and links. It has delivered consistently and will broadcast live RealAudio coverage of the final.

If you want to make use of the view from the Webcam, you'll find it under the MCC section of the site. The snapshots it provides are up to date - the code is set to refresh the picture every minute. It doesn't look like they cheat either. Visiting at 11 o'clock at night, darkness punctured by spotlight glare is all that can be seen.

CricInfo is Lord's main rival. Its advantage for the NatWest Trophy is that it makes it easier to get a full run-down on all the previous-round matches including statistics and averages, whereas Lord's favours a newsy write-up with brief mentions of the competition's history.

An alternative to the main two sites is provided by Internet Cricketer International, with its over-optimistic catch line "as good as being there".

Although concentrating on the international scene, it has covered the NatWest Trophy, and will at least provide another angle on events.

Generally, the site has an excellent news service with editorial input from players as well as journalists - something the site is proud of as it tries to build a unique voice for itself. Part of that brand-building involves pushing its name on the Net using free e-mail.

It offers an e-mail alias system based on its domain name. Users with university or work addresses, or those saddled with unwieldly existing addresses and/or ISPs with uncool names, can become someone@icricketer.com and have their mail forwarded to their usual account. It is a useful service for those who care about such things. And it is free. Some football clubs still charge fans up to pounds 15 a year for the privilege of club-based e-mail aliases.

For a localised view of the NatWest, Gloucestershire's Website is worth a visit. Pages of player profiles and the like are available and informative.

For instance, if you want to find your way to Jack Russell's homepage, look under the club information button and choose his name from the player profiles. The news pages, even those to do with the final, are largely news about getting tickets. For other news, the unofficial sites which are linked from the official site, have more to offer.

Somerset do not have their own Website listed at Lord's or CricInfo. A scurry through some of the leading search engines does not turn up anything tucked away in cyberspace either. However, the county's pages on both Lord's and CricInfo are satisfyingly full of news.

Site Addresses

Lord's - the home of cricket

http://www.lords.org/

CricInfo - the home of cricket on the Internet

http://www.cricket.org/

Internet Cricket International

http://www.icricketer.com/

Gloucestershire CCC

http://www.glosccc.co.uk/

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