One of the few bright points of the past week or so (other than Alastair Cook receiving a one match ODI suspension and our copy of Super Smash Brothers on the Wii U turning up) was the outpouring of support that emerged on social media after the death of Phillip Hughes. People (including us) were genuinely taken aback by the almost unanimous expressions of goodwill that accompanied what has been an otherwise traumatic event. This surprise was largely because social media, and the internet at large, are usually only ever seemingly used to post abuse. Or at the very least, belittle the opinions of those who are believed to be in the wrong.
It didn’t take long, naturally, for normal service to resume however, and even the day after Hughes’ funeral we noted there was a distinct return to the usual mean spirited sniping that accompanies online cricket articles. Of course, most of that stuff is probably delivered up by trolls who felt that enough nice things had been said about Australian cricketers and that it was time to try and balance things out with a bit of old fashioned bile.
Not all opinion pieces are the same, however, and some attract more poisonous comment than others. The various blogs that now litter the cricketing landscape – where no doubt stunningly successful and handsome individuals take the time to pen insightful and witty missives on the state of the game, or they just blackmail some poor bastard into hosting a website they use solely to publish poorly written Devereux based erotica – are usually fairly immune (prove us wrong readers, prove us wrong). Then there are the online versions of newspaper broadsheets: the Guardian, the Telegraph and so on. A long way below them sit the tabloids. And right at the bottom, like a screaming infant covered in it its own shit, is Cricinfo.
We imagine that these days most readers, like us, just give the main article a quick skim before plunging into the comments below. Because that’s where the real fun lies. Especially on Cricinfo. There’s nothing like a flame war, usually about Kevin Pietersen, or painfully anal contributors who insist on backing up any point with massive amounts of tenuous statistical evidence. But the best contributions are those offered by the painfully deluded. The posters who still hold onto the belief that Alastair Cook will turn around England’s flagging ODI hopes, the Indian fans who become apoplectic at the suggestion that the IPL might be a teensy, weensy bit corrupt and the Aussies who insist on defending everything ever done by an Aussie anywhere since the dawn of time.
It’s the crackpots, as opposed to the outright trolls, who make comments sections fun, and there seems to be an awful lot of them out there. Most of them naturally posting over on Cricinfo. But it’s usually the few who slip through the net on some of the more urbane sites that make the biggest splash. Take this missive delivered up by a certain Aviral Ashok on a topic about Australia’s World Cup chances:
“lolzzz. Aus has better bowlers and batsmen?? ha!! They dont even have a class batsman.. Smith was a tailender.. he was a spinner. he turned into a batsman.. It tells the mentality of an aussie. No one wants to be a spinner there.. They are afraid to take the beating man… Aus will be the first to exit…. None of them has big match players..lolzz. Their captain can only win Ashes at home.. nothing else. Both MS and Clarke are almost same age.. look at their fitness.. One is a pathetic lad.. other is the most fearsome hitter in the world… One cant run between wickets..the other one is a swift runner…One is the most WORST ODI captain of modern era.. Another is the best..
I see no reason why this MAN CAN LEAD AUS to victory…. A pathetic captain for sure…Even Kohli and ABDV as captain over him on any other day mate”
Some might think we are being unfair picking on someone whose first language clearly wasn’t English, but we think a certain genius exists behind the random capitalisation and Dali-esque punctuation. It’s the completely unnecessary comparisons with Indian players, the general sense of mirth and the appropriation of initials with certain players (like the mysterious ‘MS’) that implies a level of intimacy and familiarity. But by far its best asset is its sheer bombastic bravado. No half measures exist in the crackpots world. Take this example from Jaideep Samuel on the subject of the touring Indian Test team over on Cricinfo:
“India will definitely win the first test if not a draw… The team should be 1)M Vijay, 2) S Dhawan, 3)C Pujara, 4) V Kohli, 5) A Rahane, 6) R Sharma, 7) N Ojha, 8) A Patel, 9) V Aaron, 10) U Yadav, 11)M Shami. Viral Kohli will start a Golden era for Indian cricket.”
If only we possessed the all-encompassing vision and confidence of cricketing gods like these two fine fellows. Alas, but we do not. Which is why we are thankful for comments sections in allowing us to share in their wisdom. But it would be unfair (albeit fun) for us to pick entirely on Indian posters. Take this from an Aussie called ‘eden’ on the topic of Michael Clarke’s contentious return to Sydney Grade cricket in a bid to get fit for the First Test against India:
“So the greedy Australian captain also stopped another lad from playing by pretending to be in the side. What a sham, cricket just keeps on keeping on with Clark involved. It’s simple stay home and heel. Then when you think your heeled, come back and earn your spot back. the only thing proved by Mr Clarke in recent months, is once agin his greed. Yep Im not a FAN…..”
We should point out that that’s also the highest rated comment on the article. It’s clearly not only us who appreciate poorly written invective of this kind.
Youtube is also a good source for this kind of thing, and robelinda2, aka Rob Moody, is an expert at bringing this sort of thing to the fore. But the exchanges there lack the wit and humour of those found elsewhere, and usually just descend into hatred and racism. The highest rating comment on one of Moody’s most recent vids, on Indian umpiring, natch, reads:
“Indians have completely destroyed the great game of cricket…. with their players antics, BCCI, the IPL, matchfixing, cheating umpires etc. Ever since that cunt Sunil Gavaskar played they’ve been nothing but cheats.”
Whilst we appreciate the sentiment, there simply isn’t enough crazy punctuation or random spelling mistakes for us to take this sort of thing seriously. That Sunil Gavaskar’s name is spelt correctly is especially disappointing.
We could go on further, and indeed this is a topic we will be returning to frequently in the future, as the potential for hilarious internet hissy fits over the next few months is extremely high, especially given that India will spend most of this time touring Australia. On that note we shall end with this prediction for that tour (or perhaps it’s a prophecy of imminent doom) offered by one Sum Adi over on Cricinfo:
“Its the place where kohli’s tryst with greatness started……now tryst with god status will start…….”