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Satire Saturday | Ex-cricketers ‘hurt’ after being called out for striving to normalize toxicity

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Time for senior cricketers to stop normalizing toxicity

SportsCafe

Satire Saturday | Ex-cricketers ‘hurt’ after being called out for striving to normalize toxicity

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Anirudh Suresh

12/19/2020

Allan Border was 51 when Twitter came into existence. He lived his childhood and adulthood at a time when the concept of internet was alien to human beings and played his cricket during an era where players could get away with pretty much everything without facing the slightest of consequences.

To date, he lives and abides by the principles that were ingrained in him as a kid, something which he consequently also carried on to a cricket field. So understandably he was shook when he was hounded by ‘Netizens’ for a rather cretinous Tweet he sent out last week in his Twitter account, which he has since deactivated. 

“Well I f****d up but if it’d happened back in the day, people would have laughed it off,” he tells SportsCafe. 

The incident Border is referring to is the ‘Hack-gate’. The former Australian captain had a classic 61-year-old moment as he ended Tweeting “How to hack Virat Kohli’s Twitter account” instead of googling the same, for which he was - and is still being - condemned by the cricketing fraternity. Border took the Tweet down immediately, but the circulation of screenshots meant that he had to issue a clarification. 

“Well that was my grandson. He was on my phone playing ‘Among Us’ whilst I was joking how I’d love to hack Virat Kohli’s Twitter and write shit about the Aussies. Next thing I know, he’d gone and tweeted the exact words out. I’m not an imposter; I can assure you that,” Border had said live on Fox Sports earlier this week, coming out clean. 

But now, after being marauded with evidence that rubbishes his claims, he has opted to tell us the truth. 

“Okay, I’ll be honest. It was the work of Seven Networks CEO James Warburton. He handpicked a bunch of us - myself, Shane, Sunny G and Kapil Dev - and gave us a solitary job: to somehow, at any cost, invoke a fight between the Australian and the Indian players that would attract eyeballs and increase viewership.”

So how does ‘Mission Warburton’ end up in Border, of all people, ending up tweeting that he wants to hack Kohli’s Twitter? The Aussie great spills the beans.

“So Warnie had this genius idea. Having copped a fair few from the common folks on Twitter, and having beefed with hundreds of fellow athletes himself, he suggested that we tamper with the social media of players to create tension. He in fact said he’d done it before, and I was unanimously hand-picked as the agent who had to figure out a way to make it happen. I was initially skeptical about the idea, but then figured it was an uncharacteristically good shout from a man who once vouched for the Test selection of Marcus Stoinis and D’Arcy Short. 

“In retrospect, I should have just, you know, contacted an expert hacker or whatever you call them, but I wanted to give it a shot on my own because I’m The Allan Border. I mean if I could boldly claim live on air that Australia should declare in the first innings despite being 120 runs behind, I could surely pull this off, right? That’s what I thought, but as it turned out, I was wrong. I made a schoolboy, errrr, old-man error.”

But he’s just not done, yet. “I volunteered….” he goes on. 

“I voluntarily enrolled into Mission Warburton because honestly, I’m sick physically to my stomach watching everything that’s going on. Where is the fire? Where is the bad blood? Where are the verbal rockets? Where is the goddamn aggression? The only thing the Aussie and the Indian players are yet to do is cuddle live on air.  Have all these players forgotten what it’s to be ‘rivals’? Have the fat IPL cheques bonded them together? I’m disgusted.”

It is now that things get heated. We realize what’s unfolding and throw Border the bait, and he accepts it. He agrees that he will readily answer and justify whatever we ask, with respect to his stance on the issue. 

Correlating abuse to aggression and labelling maturity and good camaraderie as ‘lack of passion’ - don’t you think they are archaic stereotypes that need to be done away with?

No. Maturity is overrated. You can win matches by getting under the skin of opponents. Can you do the same by being friendly? 

But Australia won the ODI series 2-1 by being ‘friendly’. They are also the number one Test team in the world, and retained the Ashes in England last year, all being ‘friendly’. 

So? Winning doesn’t mean you compromise on your values. That’s what we were taught as kids. Back in the 80s and 90s, we’d get chastised if we were seen laughing around with the opponent. You cannot sell your country out in the name of friendship. 

But none of the players did. They are playing - and winning - with the same passion. What irks you about the players not crossing the line?

It is just….wrong. There should be no space for friendship once you enter the ground.

But why? Both Kohli and Smith recently stated that sport is just a part of life; everyone are, at the end of the day, human beings first. After decades of normalizing toxicity by hogging on to age-old traditions, is it not good that the sport is being played in the right spirit? Cricket is, after all, the gentleman’s game right?

…..

Is there a part of you that regrets not having shared healthy camaraderie with your opponents during your playing days owing to the unsaid rule which forced players to hate who they played against - particularly in crunch encounters?

….

Border’s had enough. He hangs up. It is evident that he, too, is a child of the yesteryear that simply is clinging on to ‘traditions’ because he was taught to, and because he can’t fathom a different reality - no matter how healthy it is.

Now we know about AB. But what about Sunny G? We decide to confront him, too - albeit about a different topic, although it is along the same lines.

Sunny paaji, good evening. We are here to talk to you about a comment of yours.

“On the business of concussion substitute itself, I don’t agree with it. Maybe I am old-fashioned, I have always believed that if you are not good enough to play the bouncer and you get hit on the helmet, then you don’t deserve a substitute. I am sorry,” 

You’d said these exact words a week ago. Why do you think so?

I said what I said. If you are not good enough to play the bouncer and you get hit on the helmet, then you don’t deserve a substitute. 

But why?

The sport and the athletes have become weak. Back in my days, we used to play with no helmets and face 150 clicks. We used to get hit on the head often, yet we used to carry on. We never complained and we were always ready to go. Players these days are just pampered.  

Is it pampering or is it common sense prevailing? Back in your day, the science in our sport was non-existent, and cricket was a dangerous game. Over the last decade, we’ve learnt more and more about concussions, and the long-term effects CTE could have on human brains. Isn’t it good that players are now being protected, and potentially being saved from long-term damage?

If all this research is true, how were we able to carry on back in the day? No helmets, no protection, faster wickets and bowlers and yet we survived. Sometimes you need to toughen up. 

But just because one person evaded a crash despite driving at 200 kph on the wrong-side, it does not mean we encourage everyone to do the same, right? Why should madness be normalized?

……………..

So as per your original quote, are you okay with batsmen not being allowed substitutes and being forced to carry on in the scenario of them getting hit on the head - even if it could potentially be life threatening?

………

Do you mean what you really say, or are you pissed that batsmen of the current generation are being treated better - more protective equipment, more health measures, friendlier rules etc - than, say, the batsmen of the 70s and 80s were?

……….

Boom, Sunny paaji hangs up, too.

En route to confronting Kapil paaji about his comments about paternity, we stop; we realize it’ll be a waste of time, for we exactly know how his story will begin, “Back in my day………..”

More power to the players - and administrators - of today for detaching themselves from the toxic unwritten rules of the past, maturing and evolving into better human beings and spreading love. There is enough hatred around the world; the cricket field ain’t need to become a playground to feed the thirst of the masters of yesterday. Condolences to the Seven Network though, for Mission Warburton will not succeed. Not in 2020, at least.

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