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The Heavy Ball

Dhoni takes to captaincy by social media

Relies on fan opinions via Twitter and Facebook for decision-making

MS Dhoni and Gary Kirsten have a chat while heading for India's training session, Bangalore, February 24, 2011

Dhoni: yes, that's a phone in his pocket  •  AFP

Indian captain MS Dhoni, under some fire over his choice of Ashish Nehra to bowl the final over in the match against South Africa in Nagpur, has come up with a novel idea - from the next mach on, he's going to crowdsource his captaincy using social networks like Facebook and Twitter.
"Well, of course, it's clear that users of Facebook and Twitter are much better informed about things like team selection, batting order and bowling changes than myself and Gary. So I think the best approach would be to take all crucial decisions by using their collective input. As they say, two hive minds are better than one," said a grinning Dhoni, refusing to elaborate on who "they" might be.
Apparently Dhoni will carry a mobile phone on to the field, using which he will constantly refer to Twitter and Facebook updates from fans watching on TV, who will give him advice on such things as when to take the Powerplay, whether to bring third man up for the new batsman, and what choice epithets to use when berating Piyush Chawla.
"I'm getting used to it, though there are many difficulties involved in checking social network updates while batting or keeping wicket. It's hard to stay focused on the cricket when it's so easy to get completely sidetracked in order to enjoy a Kamran Akmal Joke, participate in a hashtag game, click 'like' on someone's manic-depressive status message, or RT a Ramesh Srivats tweet. Total productivity #fail," admitted Dhoni, desperately trying to come up with a pun, anagram or obscure in-joke to fit in. He also said that he's having some difficulty deciphering the curious lingo used on Twitter. "The people on Twitter seem to speak in some different language. They keep referring to players by strange names I've never heard of, like Man-Beast, Boromirfaramir, Fruit Shop and R Ashwin. It's like Fake IPL Player all over again," he said, inadvertently explaining his much-questioned spinner selection policy.
Coach Gary Kirsten also agreed that the system, while definitely worth trying out, is not without its shortcomings. "One problem with crowdsourcing is that you could get many conflicting opinions. For instance, when choosing between Harbhajan Singh, Ashish Nehra or Munaf Patel to bowl a disastrous final over, opinions on Twitter and Facebook can be divided. Guess we'll just have to use a simple #youprefer poll to figure it out, eh?" said Kirsten. He also pointed out that input from fans on Twitter and Facebook may not always be of the highest quality. "While there are lots of informed and knowledgeable fans on the social networks, there seem to be some, such as @Shastribot, which keep spewing inane, obvious clichés. Need to be careful who you take advice from."
The team is also trying hard to come up with a catchy name for the system, along the lines of UDRS. Among the options they've come up with so far are Social Holistic Input for Tactics, Crowdsourcing Of Crucial Knowledge, and Social Twitter & Facebook Usage.
"At the end of the day, if we lose a match because I took advice from people on Twitter and Facebook, at least the fans won't be able to blame me for it," concluded an optimistic Dhoni, clearly underestimating the Indian fans' ability to ignore logic and reasoning in favour of blind rage.
Meanwhile, irate cricket fans in London have reportedly pelted a passing bus with what appeared to be medium-sized pebbles. When questioned by a passing constable, they claimed innocence, saying that they had mistaken the vehicle for the Bangladesh team bus. Unconfirmed rumours also suggest that, shortly afterwards, they attacked a random passer-by, mistaking him for Haroon Lorgat.

Anand Ramachandran is a writer, comics creator and videogame designer who works when he isn't playing some game with an "of" in its name. He blogs here and tweets here. All quotes and "facts" in this article are made up (but you knew that already, didn't you?)