Twitter was alight with yet another cricketing controversy, this time between ace Indian spinner Ravichandran Ashwin and South African Herschelle Gibbs. It all started harmlessly enough with Ashwin Tweeting…
Hey Guys! Just got my hands on the new NIKE React. It’s got a stunning design and the foam technology used makes it light and comfortable to use. Undoubtedly, the best running shoes I’ve stepped into, can’t wait to flaunt them.
#NikeReact #InstantGo #teamNike pic.twitter.com/SmspLkw2dA— Ashwin Ravichandran (@ashwinravi99) February 19, 2018
Totally harmless right? Nothing to do with cricket! Nothing to do with any controversy! A harmless Tweet praising a running shoe; a good one which is sought by all athletes all over the world.
While a few trolls did pass a few snide remarks (don’t they always for even harmless Tweets?), the one by Gibbs caught everyone’s attention…
Hopefully you will be able to run a bit faster now ashwin— Herschelle Gibbs (@hershybru) February 19, 2018
Sounds pretty harmless again; or maybe not! Fitness has become a big issue in Indian cricket of late. Both Yuvraj Singh and Suresh Raina failed the YoYo fitness test and were dropped from Team India. While Yuvi still finds himself out, Raina retook the Test, passed and found himself in the T20 team in South Africa.
Even Ashwin and Sir Ravindra Jadeja were ODI/T20 regulars for Team India till 2016, but 2017 onwards they have been replaced by youngsters Yuzvendra Chahal and Kuldeep Yadav. Will Ashwin-Jadeja make a comeback in the shorter formats? It’s a touchy issue.
Either way, Ashwin took it to heart and sent down a googly, which many felt was a no ball…
“Surely not as fast as you did mate, unfortunately I wasn’t as blessed as you were. But I was blessed with a wonderfully ethical mind not to fix games which put food on my plate.”
Ouch! As they say on the Internet: That escalated pretty quickly!
Gibbs realized a burgeoning controversy and nipped the exchange in the bud with…
Can’t take a joke i see anyway moving swiftly on..— Herschelle Gibbs (@hershybru) February 19, 2018
Ashwin probably realized his folly and promptly deleted the Tweet and sent out a series of Tweets to reduce the Twitter tension…
I totally believed my reply was a joke too, but look how people and yourself perceived it. I am totally game for this sort of fun mate, we shall dine over this sometime.https://t.co/Z7YdXQnxeD— Ashwin Ravichandran (@ashwinravi99) February 19, 2018
What’s sensitive to me isn’t to someone else, and what’s sensitive to you isn’t to me. I want to respect my family of fans and hence pulled the tweet down, and now entertainment over for all my haters. See you later— Ashwin Ravichandran (@ashwinravi99) February 19, 2018But the damage was done. Twitter never forgets and many Tweeple took screenshots of the offending Tweet and circulated it as a picture.
I was joking from the beginning https://t.co/nQi6teRuGl— Ashwin Ravichandran (@ashwinravi99) February 19, 2018
Here you go pic.twitter.com/0t8HxRdH1h— Aakash (@PUNchayati) February 19, 2018
Others pointed out the irony of it all and brought in the Chennai Super Kings ban. Match-fixing is a very touchy issue in India. There were allegations against the legendary Kapil Dev and another Team India captain Mohammed Azharuddin got a life ban in the last century.
Ashwin was probably referring to the 2000 match-fixing scandal which hit the South Africans and Gibbs. But after that we also had match-fixing scandals which hit the Indian Premier League and claimed the scalp of fast bowler S Sreesanth.
However, both CSK and Rajasthan Royals were banned for a two years and will make a comeback in a few months and probably the timing is all wrong for a match-fixing scandal to go viral on Twitter. Ashwin is also set to captain Kings XI Punjab in his new assignment. That way one must say that both Gibbs and Ashwin went out of their way to de-escalate the crisis.
But then, cyberspace has a permanent memory.
While Gibbs has more than half-a- million followers, Ashwin is touching 8 million! That’s another problem with the medium of Twitter. It favours controversy and confrontation over meaningful debate and exchange.
It is also a faceless medium and ends up riling up everyone. Had Ashwin shown his shoe to Gibbs on the field before a match and the latter made exactly the same comment, Ashwin probably would have laughed it off and the two would have forgotten about it.
You may remember that even Gautam Gambhir got blasted on Twitter for merely supporting our jawans at the border!Harsha Bhogle saw himself losing an assignment over certain Tweets that he didn’t make and there was also the time when master blaster Virender Sehwag and British TV personality Piers Morgan went after each other
That’s a lesson to each and everyone about the perils of Twitter!
Like the old adage: Look before you leap!
Now we have: Think before you Tweet!
That applies to not just Gibbs and Ashwin, but to all of us!The author is a Bangalore-based journalist and blogger. He blogs here