BBC BLOGS - Sport Editors
« Previous | Main | Next »

News travels fast

Post categories:

Chris Russell | 10:01 UK time, Monday, 21 August 2006

I was at the Brit Oval yesterday, not in any professional capacity but purely as a fan hoping to see England battle their way out of a tricky situation. Like any other supporter I'll be claiming 40% of the ticket's cost back today.

Others are far more qualified than me to comment on the sporting aspects of this, but what struck me was was the accuracy of the bush telegraph of rumour in the seats and bars at the ground - and that seems to me to be yet another example of the way the media is changing.

I was strictly on a day off so was deliberately out of touch with my mobile for much of the day. When the box of balls appeared I merely assumed the old ball had simply gone out of shape. I missed Darrell Hair's signal and assumed when a tannoy announcement was made about the five penalty runs that the ball must have struck a helmet behind the stumps.

It was only an hour or so later, when the players went off for bad light/tea that someone I was with checked his mobile for the football score and we caught up with what had happened.

Dark conditions meant we headed to a bar for an extended tea break with a plan to return to seats if play definitively started. Much better than the agonising exercise of watching umpires checking light meters or for spots of rain.

So we missed the England batsmen coming out, but the rumours spreading around the ground (and updates on BBC Sport's mobile service) led us back to our seats in time to witness the Pakistan team trooping down the stairs - and back again.

Throughout all this, all we saw of the broadcast coverage were a series of interviews with TV and radio being held in front of the pavilion, completely out of earshot. And yet, everything I heard from fans around me turned out eventually to be more or less true. At various stages "Pakistan are refusing to come out", "England have won because Pakistan haven't come out" and then "the umpires are refusing to come out".

The Oval crowd might be knowledgeable but this was not of course based merely on intuition. The clue was in the number of mobile phones being held to ears and the fact that I couldn't get a GRPS signal to check our WAP site for much of this period. As is ever the case these days, nobody was out of touch for too long. (Maybe everyone had all been reading yesterday's Sunday Times.)

I can only speculate about the difference had this happened the last time I was at an England v Pakistan series in 1992 at Headingley. A few people would have been on headsets turned to Test Match Special but I reckon I would have heard 100 different rumours rather than the very consistent story everyone was telling on Sunday.

So it was a surprise that the occasional tannoy announcements saying that there was basically no information and that an update would be given as soon as it was clear were met with disbelief as well as derision. There was confusion but it seemed to me most people basically knew the score.

I am not criticising the authorities here. They must account for public order and other considerations. Their information was probably strictly accurate but it was also simply not credible when people were following the commentary box speculation via remote means.

Should they have given more information? Even broadcast the BBC commentary over the tannoy to the paying public or would that have added to the confusion?

It just goes to show that in this day and age it's almost impossible to escape the connected media world and it's a consideration any organisation needs to think about in terms of talking to your customers.

BBC iD

Sign in

BBC navigation

BBC © 2014 The BBC is not responsible for the content of external sites. Read more.

This page is best viewed in an up-to-date web browser with style sheets (CSS) enabled. While you will be able to view the content of this page in your current browser, you will not be able to get the full visual experience. Please consider upgrading your browser software or enabling style sheets (CSS) if you are able to do so.