What is Fan Following?
It is a section on ESPNcricinfo's fan site, The Stands, where cricket fans write about matches - internationals and domestic - they watch live.
Who can write for Fan Following?
If you're a keen and observant fan, think you can do a good job of writing about your experiences, and are going to be attending an upcoming match (take a look at the schedule of international games for the next two months here), drop us a line here, with "Fan Following" in the subject line and let us know which game you're going to be at, and a bit about yourself (not more than 100 words, please). If we think you sound promising, we'll let you know if you can do a Fan Following report for us.
What kind of report?
Perhaps the best way to answer that is by making clear what we do not want: Fan Following is not a space for traditional match reports. Those are done by in-house writers. It is also not a space to write comment/opinion pieces. We have that covered as well.
We want your experience of watching matches at stadiums. Especially the details not available to those watching at home on TV. Did the crowd roar so loud you couldn't hear your cellphone conversation? Was the player at the boundary given a hard time by the crowd? Did other spectators' outfits puzzle you? Were you supporting a minnow side who had no chance of winning? Did you fall in love with a cheerleader?
What else do I need to keep in mind while writing?
Remember, those reading your piece will already know what happened at the game. So give them something more. The sights, the sounds, the thrills (or the utter boredom, as the case may be).
Concentrate on the specifics. Don't just tell us that it was the most exciting game you ever watched; describe why it was that way.
Use direct, conversational language, as far as possible.
Be balanced. You may be a huge Jacques Kallis fan, but try not to make your report all about him.
Take notes during the game if you can. They may help.
How long is the typical Fan Following report?
Between 700 and 1000 words. Or about as long as this FAQ. It's not a big deal if you go over the limit. We can take care of editing it down to size.
Can I write even if I don't go to the game?
No, sorry. We're looking for experiences of fans at the grounds, and that doesn't work when done off TV or the internet.
What if I'm going for just a day's play in a Test?
No problem. We'll still be interested in your report.
When will I be informed if I've been picked?
Between one and four days before a game. Once you hear from us, you need to confirm as soon as possible that you will be attending the game and will be able to do the report. The reason we need confirmations as soon as possible is because we occasionally contact multiple volunteers. So the earlier you get back to us, the better your chances of securing the spot.
When do I have to send the report in?
As soon after the game as possible. A rule of thumb is: by about 5am GMT / 10.30 IST the day after the game.
Can I send in a report even if I haven't written in and got a go-ahead beforehand?
Yes, but it needs to come in within five hours of the end of the game if it has to have a shot at being published. And we can't guarantee that it will be published even if it meets the deadline. Your best chance is to contact us well in advance and get a confirmation from us before writing your report.
Will I get paid for my piece?
Unfortunately we can't pay you or arrange for match tickets. However, we promise that your writing will be read by a huge number of cricket fans. We will also publish your photo, a short bio, and a link to your blog or website.
Can I get access to the press box and other media facilities since I'm going to be writing for ESPNcricinfo?
No, sorry. That's for professional journalists. We can't arrange for press accreditation or other access for volunteer writers.
Am I guaranteed publication once I'm contacted by ESPNcricinfo saying I can write the report?
Usually, but there may be exceptions. Your report needs to meet our editorial standards and come in on deadline.
I sent an email volunteering to cover a match. Why haven't I heard from you yet?
We usually only individually contact those we shortlist to cover a particular game. So if you haven't been notified, you're probably out of luck for that particular game; but do try later - there's plenty of cricket to go round.
Will my submission be edited?
Yes, for grammar, style, accuracy, length and facts.
Can I publish my Fan Following report elsewhere later?
Copyright for submissions to Fan Following stays with you, the writer, and you are free to publish a piece you send us elsewhere. You can publish on a personal blog at any time (with a link to the relevant ESPNcricinfo page, if possible). If you're looking to publish in any other media, we ask that you wait two days after the piece in question is published on ESPNcricinfo before doing so.
Can I also send over pictures that I took at the game?
Unfortunately we can't publish your pictures (even if they're just of you and your friends at the ground) because we're only cleared to use pictures from accredited photographers and agencies.