To Tweet or Not to Tweet?
I thought this month I'd offer a personal perspective on Twitter, given the recent publicity and ensuing debate. I'm not going to talk about specific cases, but I am going to address the belief expressed by one or two old (and old fashioned) Test cricketers – that England players, and presumably by extension all professional cricketers, should be banned from using it.
What nonsense. Of course, any medium which connects players with the public (and also, by definition, with journalists) has to be used responsibly, and we have to accept the consequences if something is said which harms the game's reputation, or edges close to being libellous or defamatory.
But there are two important further principles we must recognise:
The first is that of free speech. Professional cricketers are regarded as fair game for public criticism in the media, and have grown used to recognising it as ‘going with the territory’ – even when such comment is unjustified, and (on occasion) goes beyond comment about cricketing performance. It is rarely right to bite back, but it is surely not a crime, as long as the language used is reasonable.
The second – and probably more important – is that social media is a central part of the lives of a generation of people who we want to be excited by and involved in cricket. We must learn how to engage productively with this generation. If we don't, they will look elsewhere.