‘Silver Surfers’ rise up from the Ashes

Embracing the web, and then making it pay, is a challenge which has not yet been successfully met by even the likes of Rupert Murdoch and the Barclay twins, for all their squillions in resources.

Yet some SJA members, who in one of the internet euphemisms might be referred to as “Silver Surfers” due to their many years’ experience and a few grey hairs, have begun to rise to such a challenge themselves. Inspired by the upcoming Ashes cricket series between England and Australia, they are harnessing the internet, through blogs, social networking and Twitter.

Ted Corbett, the renowned former cricket correspondent for the Daily Star and Sunday Herald in the UK and with an even bigger audience for his work published in the Indian sub-continent, retired from full-time writing last year.

But he is back now, offering his insight and wisdom on the state of the summer game, and England’s chances of regaining the little urn, in his blog.

Corbett is even backing England to win the series by three Tests to one. In his blog post yesterday, he writes:

I watched as the Australians struggled at Worcester and unless they are playing games they will struggle at Cardiff. I cannot agree with those who suggest Nathan Hauritz is anything but an ordinary off-spinner; he lacks control and spinning power. I suspect they will use four seamers and not even think about spin until they game is slipping out of their control.

Corbett, after backing England’s selectors for sticking with their side, even puts a bit of a downer on the anticipated fray: “I am not even sure this series is going to be the tour de force promoted by the TV commentators and, the sooner everyone puts Ashes 2005 to the back of their minds the sooner England will lay down a solid basis from which to win the trophy again.”

What Corbett has yet to do with his Ashes Diary is find a way of generating any money from his work. He is using some readily available blogging software, and it would be easy enough for him to utilise Google Adsense to generate some online advertisements, stand back and watch the pennies drop in.

Adsense is certainly no get-rich-quick solution. But another Silver Surfer who may just be “monetizing” the internet towards a new publishing empire is Norman Giller, who regular readers of his column on this website will know has put together a new book on the history of White Hart Lane – Lane of Dreams – which he has marketed assiduously, and only just within the hosting rules, on Facebook.

The “group of the book” on Facebook has nearly 1,200 members – which with a book comprising many fans’ recollections of the old ground, and with special offers aimed at those who ordered the book in advance online (therefore bypassing the percentages normally demanded by publishers and retailers), ought to get the book’s sales off to a bit of a flier. Undoubtedly, Norman will be keeping us posted with his sales reports in future columns (and click here for Anton Rippon’s review of the book).

But definitely in the money, and writing for a living on the edge of the latest technology, is David Fine. The Derbyshire-based bard of cricket, who covered England’s ill-fated tour to Australia in 2006-2007, is again writing poetry inspired by each day’s play of the Ashes Test series.

This year, though, with more of a twist than a Panesar special on a turning wicket, Fine – the “npower Ashes poet in residence” – is embracing Twitter to develop a new poetic form.

Because Twitter messages are limited to 140 characters, thus Fine’s new form, “The Delivery”, will be restricted to that format, and just 22 words (the number, in yards, of the length of the wicket). The SJA member believes that it is the first time that anyone has adopted a Twitter format for poetry.

To see how it all works, Fine’s Tweets will be available here.

Fine has already had a stab at the format, having written of Pakistan’s Twenty20 World Cup win:

homeless team finds victory at home of cricket, empire’s end with fraught beginnings: a fresh political innings beneath gaze of father time.

Fine says: “The scoreboard concept was James Grimster’s, of Orangeleaf, who developed the site. It means anyone may see how the poetry is progressing with the play, almost leaning over my shoulder as I write.”

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