“I will look for you, I will find you and I will retweet you.”
Liam Neeson didn’t quite say this in his famous phrase from the movie Taken, but it seems appropriate to adapt it for the purpose of serving as a warning to any would-be professional cricketer tempted to sound off on social media – whatever their age.
Matt Parkinson, the England leg spinner, found his past returning to haunt him on the eve of the ODI series in India when supporters unearthed a series of tweets he allegedly made about Indian cricketers between seven and nine years ago, when he had only just joined the platform.
If these are taken at face value – and Guerilla Cricket would like to point out that what follows in this article could not be independently verified – it could make for compulsive viewing should he get to bowl at Virat Kohli during this series.
The Twitterati in India certainly enjoyed the banter, issuing all sorts of warnings to the Lancastrian, ranging from the humorous to the quite frankly worrying and goading the Indian captain to make him eat his words.
Apparently, between the ages of 15 and 17, Parkinson wrote a series of tweets badmouthing, among others, Kohli and MS Dhoni, not a course of action likely to endear him to Indian fans.
The tweets, which also include a take-down of Ravi Jadeja’s batting as a pretext for attacking the Indian first-class system, are reproduced as screenshots on the website The Week.
One of the tweets about Kohli was deemed so offensive to The Week’s readers that part of it was redacted. Another, from 2012, refers to Kohli and Dhoni as “a disgrace”. Dated December 16, it would have appeared on the fourth day of the final India v England Test, which England drew to ensure a series victory. It is not clear what caused such rancour, although the pair did share a stand of 198 in the first innings, much good that it did them.
Later that year, on Christmas Day to be precise, Parkinson once more referenced Kohli and it wasn’t to wish him the compliments of the season.
And almost two years later, on August 27, 2014, he returned to the focus of his disparagement, by asking: “How bad is Virat Kohli?”
That was the date of the second ODI of India’s tour of England, Kohli’s first visit to these shores and, after a torrid Test series in which he averaged only 13.40, he had presumably just been removed by Chris Woakes for a three-ball duck.
The genesis of his attack on Jadeja seems less clear-cut. Dated February 8, 2014, it reads: “Shows the awful state of Indian first-class cricket that Ravi Jadeja has three triple-centuries but he can’t bat for shit.”
Further research suggests this could have been a reaction to the first Test of India’s tour to New Zealand, when they fell short of a target of 405 by only 39 runs. Jadeja, 30 not out in the first innings, smashed 26 off his first 21 balls before holing out to mid-on. Perhaps Parkinson had some money on him.
The discovery produced a flood of replies, some copying Parkinson into the tweet. In one, an Indian supporter produced a picture of a hand hovering over the delete button of a computer keyboard, while another referred to him as a #traitor. Still another used it as an opportunity to attack, quite justifiably, several centuries of British colonialism.
Others, more level-headedly, opined that people should not be held responsible for tweets they wrote when they were really only children and it appears the offending material was subsequently taken down.
And by last year, at least, Parkinson seemed to have revised his outlook. During the IPL he praised Shikhar Dhawan’s batting for the Delhi Capitals and, in honour of the leg-spin brotherhood, tweeted: “There aren’t many better than Yuzi Chahal at the moment [hand-clapping emoji].”
It’s a start. Much more of that and he might get that IPL contract after all – perhaps just not at CSK or RCB, mind.