Wives and girlfriends of cricketers can’t be soft targets for online trolls

Cricketers hardly ever bother to hit back at them on social media. And apart from exceptions such as Virat Kohli and Mayanti Langer, the victims do not jump in and engage with abusive trolls

analysis Updated: Jul 21, 2017 12:24 IST
Aasheesh Sharma
Aasheesh Sharma
Hindustan Times
Irfan Pathan,Mohammed Shami,Virat Kohli
Irfan Pathan was trolled on social media for posting her wife’s photograph where the trolls complained she was exposing her hands and wearing nail polish (Facebook)

Former Indian all rounder Irfan Pathan is trolled on Twitter for a picture of his wife Safa Baig on Instagram and Facebook with her hands showing. Fast bowler Mohammed Shami is at the receiving end of abusive tweets for posting a photograph with his wife Hasin Jahan in sleeveless attire that the trolls deem “un-Islamic”. When Virat Kohli, the best batsman in the world, has a rare bad day at office, how do fickle fans display their resentment on social media? Blame it on Anushka Sharma, of course. Is the club of wives and girlfriends of Indian cricket’s biggest stars (WAGs) a soft target for trolls on the Internet?

What appears to have brought the pack of religious bigots together with naive fans oblivious to the nuances of international cricket is the nature of the beast that is social media. Cricketers hardly ever bother to hit back at abusive trolls. Although Shami has tried to tell his detractors to mind their own business, Pathan didn’t take umbrage and posted a philosophical Rajesh Khanna song (Kuch toh log kahenge...) for those recommending that his wife, a model from Jeddah, be confined behind a burqa. Ayesha Mukherjee, the Australia-based kickboxer wife of Indian opener Shikhar Dhawan, chose to ignore the unflattering comments when he was going through a loss of form in 2016. Dhawan of course, let his bat do the talking and has hit a purple patch in the last few months.

Still, whenever the abuse crosses the threshold of decency and etiquette, boyfriends such as Kohli are compelled to take a stand. For instance, in March 2016, the Indian captain tweeted: “Shame on people for trolling @AnushkaSharma non-stop. Have some compassion. She has always given me positivity.”

Few WAGs, such as Stuart Binny’s sports anchor wife Mayanti Langer, jump in and engage with those unfairly targeting their partners for their on-field failures. Since cricket is the opium for our masses, a number of fans also troll the trolls and hit back at them for their abusive behaviour and attempts to play moral police. Often those trolling the cricketers are soon outnumbered by fans going after them.
So, the next time tennis star Sania Mirza is trolled when her husband, Pakistani cricketer Shoaib Malik takes to the field against India, remember it is a few bullies among millions of followers who will spew this online venom. They have no business telling anybody how to behave or what to wear. As Mirza herself put it during the World T20: “It’s over, have I stopped trending yet?’ with the hashtag #somepeopleseriouslyneedtogetalife.

@Aasheesh74

First Published: Jul 21, 2017 12:24 IST