Ashes testbed for nationals’ online sites

As England prepare to defend The Ashes, online sports desks are readying themselves to use the cricket series to roll out new products and editorial practices in time for the first Test on November 23.

Blogs and multimedia will feature heavily as newspapers’ websites attempt to compensate for the 36-hour delay that has always plagued print coverage of cricket tours in Australia. editorial director Edward Roussel said The Ashes would serve as a testbed for interactivity and video features that he hopes to launch in 2007.

A centrepiece of’s Ashes coverage will be a large, new comment site that has been built for it by web development firm Interesource. Telegraph cricket analysts Geoffrey Boycott and Simon Hughes will produce a daily podcast of comment on the key moments of the day’s play.

The Times has already begun its multimedia Ashes campaign with a video diary from England bowler Matthew Hoggard. Christopher Martin-Jenkins will provide a round-up of the day’s play for Times readers first thing every morning. And Shane Warne and Five Live’s Mark Pugatch will be recording a series of podcasts from down under.

Guardian Unlimited will have six cricket writers from The Guardian and The Observer writing exclusive copy for the site. The Guardian will also be reviving its over-by-over blog-style reports, which attracted 1 million page impressions during the previous Ashes series.

The Sun Online will offer live streaming audio commentary from Australia as well as a slide-show of pictures featuring “the best-looking women from England and Australia”.

Associated Newspapers is running a series of podcasts provided by former England captain Nasser Hussain, and a daily blog from Mike Dickson, the Daily Mail‘s cricket correspondent.

Read the full Press Gazette report on this story by clicking here.

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