There are many things that nag Louis CK, the American stand-up comedian and social commentator. His bits usually range from witty slapstick to rants on the workings of modern society, and one of his pet peeves is the trappings of social media, to which many have fallen prey.
For the most part, it’s hard to disagree with Louie. “People only take in life if it comes through their phones …” he says. It was a year in which NASA found water on Mars, but people were instead hooked to that song by Drake and something called whip/nae nae.
Unfortunately, Louie is American, and is unlikely to have had much knowledge of the happenings in the cricket world, one far removed from the United States in a lot of ways, despite the best efforts of Sachin Tendulkar and Shane Warne. If he had a glimpse of the cricket fraternity on social media this year, he would have found that the virtual world isn’t all doom and gloom, that the world wouldn’t yet implode, and that plenty of smart and sensible people are to be found, if only you look in the right places.
For the cricket bunch, 2015 was the peak of social media indulgence. It had to be, given that it started with the World Cup – the most ‘digital’ one yet – and went on to document players taking gigantic steps in both their professional and personal lives, from retirements to weddings to parenthood. All this laced with mindless banter and some good old debates on the spirit of cricket.
Oh yes, it was a good year. And here’s a reboot, just as a reminder.
New Zealand win hearts… and some matches too
There is no better place to start than the World Cup. While Australia won the tournament, it was New Zealand who stole hearts.
The tournament itself was more high-tech than any before. There were robots involved … you read it right, yes – robots.
— Cricket World Cup (@cricketworldcup) February 12, 2015
New traditions were introduced. The Man of the Match had to sign the camera after each match, and it made for some viewing.
— Indian Cricket Team (@IndianCricNews) February 15, 2015
And it caught the attention of the world. Here’s one fan who had the whole of India excited.
— Mahesh Bhupathi (@Maheshbhupathi) February 15, 2015
And as far as on-field action was concerned, history was made.
Can’t believe what I have achieved in this game Thanks to Hamid and Shapoor for not letting my effort go in vain. pic.twitter.com/Puyc7cAlqz
— Samiullah Shinwari (@SamiShinwari45) February 26, 2015
Age-defying acts were in evidence in plenty.
— ICC (@ICC) March 31, 2015
And there were classics that not many will forget. There was that semifinal between New Zealand and South Africa, which reduced people to this:
$/8;&!;@:!3$$:&-9.7:!.!.! Finding it hard to put my words together!! Gripping match … Pillow covering face #€|£^|€|€|¥|!
— Brian Lara (@BrianLara) March 24, 2015
This is so tense I nearly threw up a little bit in my mouth. #CWC15
— Geoff Lemon Sport (@GeoffLemonSport) March 24, 2015
Have you ever seen Dale Steyn so helpless?
— cricket.com.au (@CricketAus) March 24, 2015
New Zealand were officially the darlings of the cricket world. With Brendon McCullum writing letters like this, it was no surprise.
— DK (@DineshKarthik) March 28, 2015
At the end of it all though, it was Australia who triumphed. Again. With their own hard-nosed brand of cricket.
Still going with the Kings and going hard!! Love Australia xxx pic.twitter.com/M0ChhSonad
— Darren Lehmann (@darren_lehmann) March 29, 2015
Banter in, Banter out
It was a year in which the banter on Twitter escalated to unprecedented levels. There were plenty of players in their own mini-battles. Kevin Pietersen v James Faulkner was an all-year league phase that kept readers ROFLing, while Jimmy Neesham made it a personal mission to take on the trolls with his own, excellent brand of humour.
If we had to pick a winner from the KP v Faulkner contest, we’d have to go with Pietersen. It was a no-brainer, really. He was relentless, his punches would have hurt more, and Faulkner’s comebacks were mostly just empty stabs in the dark.
They were at it right from the beginning of the year.
— Kevin Pietersen (@KP24) January 3, 2015
But see what I mean by Faulkner’s comebacks? Lacked bite.
Don’t you have any mates in Melbourne?? You must be that bored in a hotel room by yourself. @KP24
— James Faulkner (@JamesFaulkner44) January 3, 2015
And Pietersen came back each time.
He just kept going on.
— Kevin Pietersen (@KP24) January 7, 2015
… And on.
Perhaps Faulkner brought some of it on to himself. He was like that kid in the playground who attracted bullies.
At one point, Faulkner seemed to suggest he had the upper hand.
So KP just stepped on the gas.
Whether there is a re-match in 2016 remains to be seen – it sure looks like it – but as far as 2015 is concerned, Pietersen bags the Best Banterer of the Year award. But it’s fair to say Jimmy Neesham gave him a run for his money. Neesham’s strength is his razor-sharp wit and sarcasm, and that was in evidence throughout the year.
Even Neesham’s compliments weren’t your everyday ‘well done’ ones.
Has anyone ever seen AB and superman in the same room? Didn’t think so. — Jimmy Neesham (@JimmyNeesh) May 10, 2015
And he noticed the oddest things…
He wasn’t averse to commenting on matters of national importance. Sample his rant on New Zealand’s decision to leave the call on the new national flag to the people.
You don’t do a public vote to decide how to build a bridge or run an airport and the flag referendum shows why. People are dumb. — Jimmy Neesham (@JimmyNeesh) December 12, 2015
After the current flag wins by a landslide how likely is it that we’ll get another crack at changing it to something decent in 10-15 years? — Jimmy Neesham (@JimmyNeesh) December 12, 2015
And when someone attempted to troll him, they did so at their own risk.
Another one who was not to be trolled was R Ashwin, not even if the one doing the trolling was a fellow – if former – international bowler in Rodney Hogg.
There were plenty of others indulging in random banter. Here’s Adam Gilchrist having a mischievous dig at Pietersen.
And Steyn’s go at his physio…
… although that didn’t last very long.
If you mess up in this age of Twitter, you won’t be allowed to forget it in a hurry. Just ask Steyn. The best bowler of this generation by a country mile, and he has had to cope with random reminders of this.
Being Steyn, he didn’t care.
— Dale Steyn (@DaleSteyn62) January 2, 2015
But it did nag him. And his bellow of “Hallelujah!” was audible after Pat Cummins did the same. It’s the balls these days, you see…
If a legend such as Steyn is susceptible to mistakes, then what chance does a national embassy have? During the World Cup match between Afghanistan and Scotland, the US Embassy in Kabul tweeted this.
Only, the match wasn’t over yet. Again, Americans and cricket … long way to ago.
Twitter feats, and celebrity sightings
It was also a year in which Virat Kohli crossed a few virtual landmarks. He had five million followers on Twitter at the beginning of the year, and well over eight million by the end of it.
Oh, and on Instagram as well.
Perhaps that had something to do with him becoming buddies with Roger Federer.
There were other celebrity sightings as well. Ajinkya Rahane met Federer too.
Shoaib Malik, perhaps via the Sania Mirza connection, met Rafael Nadal.
Chris Gayle bumped into David Beckham while shopping somewhere.
And R Ashwin met Suriya. Alright, fine, not in the same league as far as celebrities are concerned, but we had to mention it.
And as is common place now, there was plenty of Bollywood in cricket as well.
Weddings. And babies.
And it seems social media is the place to be as far as marriages are concerned as well. It was a year in which all of Rohit Sharma, Suresh Raina and Harbhajan Singh got hitched. And they were just a few among the many.
— yuvraj singh (@YUVSTRONG12) November 1, 2015
— Dhawal Kulkarni (@dhawal_kulkarni) June 1, 2015
And Yuvraj Singh got engaged. In typical Yuvraj fashion, he had a go at the media after announcing the news as well.
So now my dear media has decided the venue and month of my marriage can u also tell me the dates so I can get ready well in time !
— yuvraj singh (@YUVSTRONG12) November 4, 2015
It was also the year when AB de Villiers had a little AB.
Congratulations to AB and Danielle de Villiers on the birth of their baby boy! pic.twitter.com/2wFVyGhWmC
— Alt Cricket (@AltCricket) July 22, 2015
And Pietersen entered fatherhood as well.
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Videos and vines
Vines and brief video clips caught the fancy of cricketers. Every little thing they did was recorded on video. Birthday messages, wishes on festivals… and fans found their heroes to be ever more accessible. One of the rages this year was this – Rahul Dravid on his upbringing, and his mother’s scrapbook.
And the South African players’ surprising their tiny tot fans also touched a few heart strings.
But it wasn’t all tear-jerky stuff. Trust Chris Gayle for the exuberant. Here’s him singing.
And here’s Gayle taking on Pietersen in a six-hitting challenge.
— CPL T20 (@CPL) June 16, 2015
It is Dale Steyn who wins the war of the videos though. Our Best Videos of the Year award winner bagged it with this daredevilry.
This hilarious bathing his pet one.
This moment of spontaneity, and that beautiful nutmeg pass.
And most importantly, this challenge with a one-and-a-half year old.
And in doing this, he also won the Nice Guy of the Year award.
— BCCI (@BCCI) December 5, 2015
Elsewhere, in an attempt to bag the award, Yuvraj imitated Michael Jackson.
— yuvraj singh (@YUVSTRONG12) July 25, 2015
And Brian Lara tried to win the sympathy card.
— Brian Lara (@BrianLara) December 4, 2015
There were plenty of legends retiring this year as well. From Daniel Vettori to Jonathan Trott, Virender Sehwag to Zaheer Khan, each had social media swarming in emotion and nostalgia.
Sadly after 11 years I have decided to retire from ZC.My heart will always be close to my team mates and country.Thank you for your support!
— Brendan Taylor (@BrendanTaylor86) March 12, 2015
Congrats to these 2 legends of the game. Was always a pleasure playing against and watching you. Enjoy retirement pic.twitter.com/EqSsEs9mOz
— Jacques Kallis (@jacqueskallis75) March 18, 2015
I hereby retire from all forms of international cricket and from the Indian Premier League. A statement will follow. — Virender Sehwag (@virendersehwag) October 20, 2015
Gayle, Oh Gayle
A yearly round-up of social media isn’t complete without a brief look at Gayle’s exploits on various public platforms. It was the year in which he coined a moniker for himself – #WorldBoss – and guess what? It was all the rage.
Gayle had no qualms posting his thoughts – hi every thought – on Twitter.
And at times… it was a tad too much information.
My yardies in the building!!! pic.twitter.com/6BVys1pLUW
— Chris Gayle (@henrygayle) June 24, 2015
It wasn’t long before someone decided to do something about it all, and hacked his Instagram account.
By the way, my Instagram page has been hacked and deleted. Let you know when I’m ready for a new one… I think they’re tired of seeing me
— Chris Gayle (@henrygayle) December 5, 2015
As if that was going to stop Gayle.