The last time England hosted the Ashes was more than half of Twitter’s lifetime ago, so for many UK cricket fans, the summer of 2013 was their first opportunity to taste this oldest of sporting traditions while following along on their favourite platform.
But the conversation on Twitter was not limited to the UK. Whilst the action may have been in the middle of the night at times Down Under, one part of the 2013 #Ashes that Australia did win at was the number of official Tweets.
Cricket Australia (@CricketAus) sent 2,000 Tweets during the series, compared to the 1,700 sent by England Cricket (@ECB_cricket). But that was about the only metric Australia won out on, as England dominated on the field and on Twitter.
Overall there were more than 3.4 million Tweets about the Ashes during the series. The official hashtag #Ashes was endorsed by both teams and all official broadcasters in both countries and was used 1.6 million times during the five Tests.
The most tweeted about moment was the nail-biting finish to the first Test, during which we saw 7,100 Tweets per minute as England claimed victory on July 14.
When it came to Retweets, @ECB_Cricket’s Tweet confirming they had won the series had many more RT’s than @CricketAus’s most retweeted message, which came as Ashton Agar reached 50 in that famous innings on his Test debut on July 11:
England win by 74 runs! England win the #InvestecAshes Series 3-0! #Ashes #Rise pic.twitter.com/gTkKOWpVHZ— England Cricket ( @ECB_cricket) August 12, 2013
FIFTY! Agar becomes the first #11 to score a half-century on debut, pulling AUS back from the brink. AUS 9-192 #ashtag #Ashes #ReturnTheUrn— Cricket Australia ( @CricketAus) July 11, 2013
Both these figures were eclipsed by this Tweet from Kevin Pietersen (@KP24), the most retweeted Tweet by a player:
Who wants the shirt I got my 113 in? If this tweet gets 10000 RT’s, one of you will get it.. Signed & delivered!— Kevin Pietersen ( @KP24) August 5, 2013
That is a theme that runs right across sports on Twitter as players tend to have more engagement than teams. Pietersen was the most-followed player on either team - and he also gained the most new followers during the series, rising by more than 100,000 during the Ashes to more than 1.3 million.
During the series, Kevin Pietersen (@KP24) was the most Tweeted about player on either side. Australia captain Michael Clarke (@MClarke23) gained the most new followers of anyone on his team, adding more than 50,000 during the series. He is the most-followed Aussie with more than half a million followers.
But Clarke was not the most tweeted about player in a baggy green cap - that was Brad Haddin. Haddin is not on Twitter, but most of the players on both teams are.
The players who tweeted the most for each team were Stuart Broad (@StuartBroad8) and Ed Cowan (@EddieCowan) respectively for the two teams.
Most sports stars know one of the quickest and easiest ways to build engagement with their accounts is to tweet rich media - such as photos. It allows them to share their unique, behind-the-scenes perspective of their lives. Broad did just that with his shot of captain Alastair Cook and wicketkeeper Matt Prior thumbing a lift:
Ashes winning England Captain, always grounded, trying to get back from The Oval. Haha pic.twitter.com/NCP5jZxzcT— Stuart Broad ( @StuartBroad8) August 26, 2013
Matt Prior (@MattPrior13) then shared this candid pic of the England players sharing a drink and a song on the Oval outfield at the culmination of the fifth Test:
Best moment of the ashes!!! #beerswiththeboys pic.twitter.com/q6Rj1ZG4zk— Matt Prior ( @MattPrior13) August 25, 2013
The Ashes resume as soon as November, when the action swings to Australia for the first time since the 2010/11 series. Aussie fans will be hoping for a reversal of fortunes for Clarke’s team, and they will be following along on Twitter as they do so. Roll on November!