With the shock revalationary news that previously Twitter-shy Paul Collingwood has joined Twitter, the whole cricketing world is aghast. Collingwood opposes everything Twitter stands for, with his stoic hours of test defence for England belying his new status as 140 character micro-blogger. Collingwood has also appeared very informative and interesting in interviews, something that Twitter does not often lend itself too, with banality usually being the lifeblood of most tweets. So why would England's ginger hero want to join the likes of Graeme Swann, Jimmy Anderson, Tim Bresnan and The Short Third Man on Twitter?
Probably because Twitter's rather fun. With millions of worldwide users, there is obviously some attraction to seeing what other people are thinking. Especially when those people are celebrities. That's why I joined! I often while away time reading the tweets of various sporting types, and have (hopefully) amused a few of my 120 followers into the bargain. On a long, boring tour of the subcontinent (which the England team are currently on), there are definately advantages to being on Twitter, compared to another game on Pro Evo, or a walk into the Bangladesh countryside. In the evenings, when there isn't much in the way of entertainment, and added to us being in the era of the smart phone where Twitter is always available, players can easily express their thoughts through a new medium. During the Sri Lanka tour of 2007, many of the England players signed up for Facebook (the new thing at the time), and now a few are signing up to Twitter.
During the Ashes last year, the tweets of Anderson and Swann entertained thousands, as regular fans were granted an insight into the English dressing room (and Phil Hughes gave us an insight to the Australian selectors). While both Anderson and Swann did not get the large numbers they expected for their not-very-publicised "Tweet Off" (and I should know... I was there!), there was very good feedback about their tweeting activities. The actions of Tim Bresnan, who signed up only to tell a fan to "get back to his mum's basement" caused slight embarrassment to the ECB, who warned the irresponsible Bresnan off the social networking site. So should the ECB stop the higher profile Swann, Anderson and Collingwood (as well as any potential others) from tweeting? Ultimately, the twitter accounts of the players are their own, and could theoretically be allowed to put up whatever they want. However, PR-wise, they should be warned from certain things, such as abusing fans a la Bresnan, revealing confidential team information (like Phil Hughes or tennis' Andy Roddick), or being a downright moron (Darren Bent).
England's Twitter Revolution may or may not have any impact on the team's performance, but certainly has an impact on the team's relationship with the fans. If handled properly, the social networking site can be a massive PR success for the ECB, who are always trying to attract new fans to the game. And hopefully for me, Swann can attract more players to Twitter.