Prematurely Judging The Guardian’s World Cricket Forum

Earlier this month, The Guardian (home to some of my favorite cricket writers) launched the World Cricket Forum, a weekly blog that aims to catalog and discuss cricket around the world. It seems the writers at the newspaper suddenly realized that people outside England (and Australia) apparently play and even like to talk about cricket. Anyway, here’s the structure:

 This is intended to be a blog that is global in nature and weekly in output. It will consist of a short themed piece above the line, perhaps outlining the coming week, and then daily updated news stories intended as a catalyst for discussion. Then, having lit the blue touchpaper, we shall retire (above the line although not below, of course) and watch the discussion flow. Imagine, as someone said recently on here, a civilised dinner party conversation rather than the bear pit of a political rally. It is a forum for cricket friends around the world, a meeting place if you will.

Which basically translates to, “We will post a bunch of links to stories we thought were interesting, and then you talk about it.” I understand that the Internet is best when it is interactive, but I really don’t have much faith in letting comment threads rule the roost. There are blogs that feature great conversations from great online communities, but most have trolls, assholes, and very opinionated fans sorely lacking in perspective. Reading through the comments at the Guardian, I see many worthwhile comments, but not enough to match a surf of crap.

This raises a bigger question: are cricket fans jerks? There are the Test elitists and snobs (e.g.: me); the stats people whom no one can understand (let alone argue with); the nationalists who think the Do or Die campaign is still on; the Australians…. Perhaps cricket’s complexity lends itself to a sort of practiced erudition, a trend encouraged by both blogs (Hear Me and My Opinions!) and television replays and commentary (Everbody can be an expert after hearing one talk on televisions). I’d much rather we all talked like Devanshu Mehta, who sifted through volumes of data on J. Trott’s career and ended on this humble note:

That is what makes him so interesting– the most popular metrics used to judge a cricketer fail when judging Jonathan Trott. Batting average, strike rate, gross runs, 100s, 50s, are an inadequate set. Those of us who pay attention to numbers have known about the inadequacy of traditional statistics, but Jonathan Trott personifies this struggle. Any time anyone says, what’s wrong with traditional stats? We can say, “Jonathan Trott,” and smile knowingly.

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