Peering at the personal sites of some of the biggest names in world cricket, floating in the toilet bowl of the internet
What do you think of Grigory Rasputin?
This man had a certain talent that allowed him to wield power over people. I think that he was an eccentric person.
What is your favourite quote?
“Comfort is a big disease, make sure you get out of your comfort zone”
There is one inconvenient truth that sportspeople, cricketers included, want to hide from us.They are people.
People like me, you and her over there. They breathe. They sleep. They occasionally forget to wash their hands. Strip away the elite sporting talent and you are left with a bog-standard bundle of human nurture and neuroses with an inflated bank balance.
Because they are people, they are also weird.
The funny thing is that the more effort you expend trying to seem ‘normal’, the more you end up looking like a weirdo.
The two exhibits at the top of this post can be found respectively on average ex-footballers Andrei Arshavin’s and Phil Masinga’s personal site. Both contain all you ever wanted to know about them and less. Neither seem to be blessed with an innate sense of humour. In attempting to do the bantz like one of the lads down the pub, they have both ended up looking as socially acceptable as the blazer that Phil is wearing in that photo. Mmm, shoulder pads.
Both cricket and football are professional sports, but their vastly different economies mean that cricketers have not had to worry about their personal brand too much, beyond keeping some financial services sponsors happy and appearing in the odd baldness treatment ad.
Luckily for us, cricketers are now playing catch-up and raising their head above the e-parapet. And the results are marvellous!
One of the best bits of advice I’ve ever received is this; “never write down anything you would not want to be read out in court”. Clearly the six accused cricketers below haven’t heard this before.
All rise, the court is now in session…
Where else is there to start other than with the man so egotistical that even KP looked up to him? Never knowingly under-promoted on or off the pitch, Shane has created a site that distils Warniness into its purest digital form. Case in point; this is the only one of the six sites that appears top of the Google listings when you search just for the relevant player’s name.
The first thing you see once the front page has loaded is (natch) a full screen splash of his nibs. Immediately apparent is his famous heterochromia. Is this how he took so many wickets? Maybe Gatting wasn’t thinking about that cheese sandwich, maybe he just made the mistake of looking deeply into Shane’s big
blue green greenybluey peepers. Apparently heterochromia iridum affects around 1% of the population. We always knew Warnie was special.
There are some other gems on the site. The Partners section could have gone in a very different direction, but that just meant I could get to the Stats bit sooner. This really gave me a headache.
Here we have his career stats across a variety of metrics in a histogram. But what’s this numerical bizarrathon? Do the bars show rank, volume, or simply the volume of banned diuretics needed to achieve these heady heights? There’s even one bar (T20 5+ wickets in an innings) that has a 0 value, yet is still shaded a bit. Pass the paracetamol.
I couldn’t take it anymore from here. Just a final passing mention to the section on the front page where he is selling “mojis”. In what possible situation would you need a Shane Warne emoji? And where has the ‘e’ gone? Must be because he’s from ‘Straya.
Charge: gross vanity
Is this site working? The screen’s just blank. Oh hang on, there’s a logo fading in.
Oh Virat. You’ve commissioned your own logo haven’t you? But this is just the tip of the iceberg.
First of all, he’s gone for a .club domain name. Unfortunately, this isn’t a very good club. Once we’ve got past the velvet ropes and chrome poles of the logo, we soon get to the sticky carpet of the image carousel that rotates across the front page. Most alarming is where he seems to be getting overly-friendly with his dog Bruno. Although it looks less like the real Bruno than it does the lifeless taxidermied corpse of the poor mutt.
From then on the offences multiply quickly; the syrupy quotes (“Virat Kohli reminds me of myself” – The Legend Himself, Viv Richards); in the chat room, fans are described as “Viratians”; his bio has a tattoos section; he has his own avatar.
On the face of it, this site looks like a passable nightspot from the outside, what with it’s alluring facade and polished interior. But once we get into the content, we just end up drinking Carling and Jaegerbombs whilst listening to pounding EDM.
Charge: worshipping false idols
Compared to the other snazzy efforts on this list, it looks like this site has been forged with a manual carriage-return typewriter. But what did we expect?
This site bored me to tears, particularly the Wit and Wisdom section which turned out to be a bunch of boring shit Thatch once said, so I’ve not actually got much to say about it. I made a word cloud of the site though. Here it is:
Charge: aggravated irrelevance
Another bespoke logo immediately has my hackles up. I suspect this might be another shamelessly self-serving site. I’m not disappointed.
In what is essentially an extended sales pitch for his corporate and after-dinner speaking gigs, it’s a long old slog through bland text and video teasers of the undoubted insight riches that can be yours for only a few ten thousand dollars. But I really started gagging when I came across the Books section, specifically the under-punctuated Autobiography ‘My Story’.
The blurb about his magnum opus opens thusly:
He was the greatest batsman of his generation and, as captain, possessed the sharpest tactical mind in the game.
This hasn’t quite induced a knee-jerk reaction in me to hit the bullshit button, but this is a bombastic, double-headed beast of a claim that ought to be subject to the utmost scrutiny.
So I got stats-happy and put them both to the test. Without boring the arse off you in terms of methodology, or pummelling you with results tables, here’s how it went.
“The greatest batsman of his generation”
First I looked at the career batting average of the 605 other batsmen who played at least one Test between 2004 and 2014 (Pup’s span). To capture his ‘generation’, I manually excluded those with insanely long Test careers who didn’t really overlap well enough (your Tendulkars and Kallises), the odd late bloomer (hello Younis Khan and Mike Hussey), and the obvious young’uns (Smith, Root, Williamson).
That still leaves AB de Villiers (3 years younger, Test average 1.3 runs higher), Hashim Amla (2 years younger, 0.8 higher), Virender Sehwag (2.5 years younger, 0.2 runs higher), and ONLY BLOODY KUMAR SANGAKKARA (3.5 years older, 8.3 runs higher).
Factor in Clarke’s 22 not outs that inflate his average and the claim looks a little shonky. We can also look to Wisden’s authority in bestowing more awards on both Sehwag and Sangakkara. I’ll admit that the ‘greatest’ tag is a qualitative as well as quantitative gong, but we only need one credible candidate to disprove it.
Step forward Kumar.
“Sharpest tactical mind in the game”
This is even more qualitative, so I’ll just draw a comparison between Clarke’s record and that of Misbah-ul-Haq:
|Clarke||47||24 (51.1%)||16 (34.0%)||7 (14.9%)|
|Misbah||56||26 (46.4%)||19 (33.9%)||11 (19.6%)|
Pretty similar, right?
Clarke did this with (for significant periods of time) the likes of Smith, Hussey, Warner, Johnson, Siddle and Starc, plus the services of a host of seasoned performers.
Misbah had at his disposal just Younis Khan, Azhar Ali, Saeed Sjmal, Yasir Shah and bugger all else, whilst playing most of his games in an empty dustbowl of a neutral overseas venue.
Charge: wanton exaggeration
We need to talk about Kevin. Actually bollocks to that, he can do that all by himself.
That said, of all the players you would think would have a personal website rather than being a limpet on Facebook’s platform, it would be KP. But here we are in the House of Zuckerberg.
His feed is a curious mix of shots of first class plane travel, self-aggrandisement, brand whoring, and rhino death. I know he’s involved in a good cause, but that’s quite a lot of corpses.
Curiously, when you do click through to what purports to be kevinpietersen.com, we find that there is no web page that matches that entry!
Charge: just being KP
Verdict: er, GUILTY!
Last but not least, the enigma himself. Like KP, a facebook hanger-on. But what do we get when we click www.shahidafridiofficial.com?
Charge: having a bad website
Verdict: NOT PROVEN! (thank you Scots law)
So there you have it. We should be thankful that cricket is in the position of being the second largest sport in the world, but, compared to football, relatively untainted with the same levels of fame-induced idiocy amongst its playing base.
Even Chris Gayle doesn’t have a bells-and-whistles site. His is a simple affair devoted to his charitable work. Don’t blush, Chris baby! Then again I can’t imagine he would ever be arsed to update it.
However, there are still enough factors in the cricketing world to ensure that some seek to extend their 15 minutes of fame and milk it for all the money they can, the riches of the T20 leagues around the world being the primary culprit.
Let these sites remind us that cricket is a gentleman’s game, with a community spirit to rival any other sport in the world. What else could replace our beloved game in the phrase “it’s just not cricket”?
Anyway, I think we all need a shower to wash the smell of these sites off. Crap they may be, but long live the cricketer’s personal site for the sake of our own amusement.