Here is some great news for those who follow cricket on Firstpost. Eminent journalist Prem Panicker has come on board to write blogs, complete with updates, analysis and opinion as matches are underway. Now a live blog by one of India's finest cricket writers is surely an enticing prospect for any cricket aficionado. But not simply the 'cricket geeks', Panicker's blog, aptly named 'Hawk Eye', promises insights for even casual followers of the sport. What you can bet on is that Panicker's blog would have an identity of its own.
And how exactly would it be 'different'? What 'out of the box' experience would Panicker offer the readers?
For one, the updates would be over-by-over, instead of ball-by-ball as some of the other blogs do. "When you go 90X6 balls doing the live blog, it reduces you to writing just the mechanics — ball played into the covers, single taken — that sort of a thing. The advantage of doing it over-to-over is that you can look at the flow of play, how the bowler is shaping up for a particular over, how he is thinking through it and how the batsman is responding, instead of concentrating entirely on the minutae, though I don't want to compare with others or other sites," Panicker says.
"The other thing that you bring to the table is that you read the game (yourself). Pretty much everywhere, they have their own commentators, and each has a different point of view... at the start of the lunch break the tendency was to say it was a shared session, but I don't think so. So different points of view (would) come in," he adds.
Now that is some serious quality of content, which is no surprise given the pedigree that the author of the blog possesses. There is still a lot of action that is to happen in the second Test between India and Australia in Bengaluru. Besides, there are two more Tests coming up. And with Panicker analysing every action threadbare on Firstpost, there is a lot for readers to look forward to.
So would we expect pure analysis of what is happening on the field, or a mix of analysis and opinion, we ask Panicker.
"In any case as far as cricket is concerned, most of what we call analysis is opinion. I might think KL Rahul batted very well in the first one-and-a-half hour and completely lost his head in the second; another commentator may feel those are natural abberations and he is confronted with new challenges and is trying to work out what to do. One way of looking at that is to say it is analysis and two different people are looking at it in two different ways and the other way of looking at it is that it is opinionated. It needs to be. There is no perfect analysis," Panicker says.
Importantly, he plans to do a preview before the start of each day's play through the entire length of the current India-Australia Test series. It would essentially comprise a discussion on the pitch, how the game is poised and what the two teams need to do in the day.
"Today I we started with two short posts on the teams and the wicket. Tomorrow it will more likely be (a discussion on) the pitch and also the match situation and what each team will probably need to do. Depending on where the game is at the end of the day, you would definitely have some thoughts that are worth posting on what each team need to do especially in the opening session. We can start off with a post and a quick summation after each session," Panicker says.
And what does he have in mind for the session breaks, like the lunch and tea breaks?
"One of the things that could be possible is to do a quick Q-and-A. You could either do it on the blog itself, or it could be on Twitter. A discussion at the close of play will make sense," Panicker adds.
You have to say, then, that Panicker has a number of interesting ideas for the live blog, which would surely make it stand apart and make following cricket possibly more enjoyable than it ever was. And perhaps it would not be an exaggeration that, if you leave out the visual angle that TV offers, Panicker's live blog on Firstpost would be as fulfilling an experience for cricket-lovers. It is a close approximation of watching the match on TV, and perhaps a bit more for those who are interested in analysis.