Posted by : Amitha Amarasinghe Friday, January 21, 2011
I still can remember watching the 1992 cricket world cup as a 12-year-old schoolboy. Technology wasn’t no way near what it is today during those days and I remember we talked about the ‘stump vision’ camera as quite an achievement of the history of technology. Most of the matches were not live telecasted here in Sri Lanka as the cost of television rights and satellite downlinks were not justifiable for national TV to go for a full coverage of the tournament. We did not have SMS news alerts or Cricinfo.com either, to get regular updates about the matches. As a result, we got to know the results of some of the matches Sri Lanka played in the group stage only after watching the 8.00pm newscast on TV. The only person I was able to ‘discuss cricket’ during those days, was my (then) 85 years old grand mother. Yes, my grand mother was a great fan of cricket, so we both sat together to watch the match on TV.
Then it came the 1996 cricket world cup. Boy! Can I ever forget that magical moment when Arjuna Ranatunga scored the winning run of that final match against Australia in Lahore? That was simply awesome, and ironically again, my grand mother was right next to me watching the match with several other close relatives of my family. I have never known how Australian fans felt that night when Arjuna smashed Shane Warne for consecutive sixes and showed his tongue to the Aussie leg-spin maestro. There was no line of connection between Aussie fans watching the match down under, and the Sri Lankan fans watching the match here.
15 years since then here we are; just only 29 days away from another cricket world cup. The things are significantly different compared to1992, including the rules of the game and the way technology is used in every aspect of the game. Coming from 2007 version of the cricket world cup, we wouldn’t see much of a difference in the way technology is used inside the ground and in the TV coverage, but there is a significant difference in the way fans are going to interact with this version of the cricket world cup!
Get Ready for a Worldwide Social Experience of Watching Cricket
Yes, this is going to be the world’s first ever “social cricket world cup”. When the 2007 version of cricket world cup was staged in the Caribbean, Facebook had less than 50 million users worldwide, which now has reached up to 600 million users. Twitter has not even reached 1 million users by then, but now has become the most common form of keeping in touch among many of the younger generation. Technorati reportedly tracked about 15 million active blogs back in 2007, and the number has now risen to 500 million active English language blogs as end of 2010. Smartphones was a luxury affordable for only a few people in the society but thanks to the heavy competition among smartphone manufactures, it has now become a commodity in most parts of the world.
If we put these pieces together we can expect what is going to happen in this year’s cricket world cup. No one is going to watch live cricket matches while talking only to their grand mothers! Imagine a Sri Lanka Vs India match (possibly in the knock-out stage). Cricket fans from both countries will discuss the match live and real-time, using Twitter hash tags and Facebook walls. When Tendulkar hits a ball for a six, an India fan might tweet “Yaaaahoooo! A six!!! #CWC2011 #INDVSL” while a Sri Lankan fan might react with a tweet “Oh shit! #CWC2011 #INDVSL”. The entire experience of watching a cricket match sitting in your living room will become totally refreshing. When Australia play Sri Lanka in the group stage match in Colombo, most probably @JustJimWillDo will watch the match from his Melbourne home while @budhajeewa will watch it at his home in Matara. I most probably be seated inside the R.Premadasa stadium (if I get lucky enough to grab a ticket in the phase 2 issue). No matter where we are watching the match from, all three of us (amongst virtually millions of other fans) can connect to each other with a simple tweet with the hash tags #CWC2011 #AUSVSL. Was this even imaginable back in 1992?
Already there are several fan-initiated blogs to write about Cricket World Cup 2011, and you can find me writing in some of those places once the action starts on 19th Feb. Already I have made several twitter friends from all over the world who are big cricket fans like me. I’m sure they all are awaiting till the ‘cup that matters’ arrive in their respective home countries.