According to R Ashwin’s Twitter bio, “sarcasm” is his “forte”. On Monday, the Indian off-spinner got into a spat on Twitter with Herschelle Gibbs which ranged from his own running speed to match-fixing taunts at the former South African opener. But it wasn’t the first time that Ashwin had taken someone, cricketer or otherwise, on in a contentious Twitter tatter. Renowned for his candid and sharp remarks both on and off the cricket field, Ashwin doesn’t seem to take a step back whenever he feels provoked on social media.
Monday’s spat started with Ashwin promoting a shoe brand and “wanting to flaunt it”. His tweet about the running shoes aptly named React prompted Gibbs to hint at the Indian’s running speed tweeting, “Hopefully you will be able to run a bit faster now Ashwin.” Ashwin’s reaction was slightly more caustic. “Surely not as fast you did mate, unfortunately I wasn’t as blessed as you were. But I was blessed with a wonderfully ethical mind not to fix games which put food on my plate,” he tweeted. Gibbs then decided to nip the matter in the bud bringing up Ashwin’s apparent lack of humour. “Can’t take a joke I see anyway moving swiftly on,” he wrote. Realizing that he’d perhaps gone too far, Ashwin tried to diffuse the matter by extending an olive branch and a dinner invitation.
“I totally believed my reply was a joke too, but look how people and yourself perceived it. I am totally game for this sort of fun mate, we shall dine over this sometime,” he tweeted. Ashwin also took down the tweet about Gibbs’ past with “fixing” issues but wasn’t done dealing with his trolls, who questioned his sportsmanship. “What’s sensitive to me isn’t to someone else, and what’s sensitive to you isn’t to me. I want to respect my family of fans and hence pulled the tweet down, and now entertainment over for all my haters. See you later,” he tweeted before adding another rejoinder which read, “I was joking from the beginning.”
During the World T20 in 2016, it was a match not even involving India that had the Bangladeshi fans baying for blood. Prior to Bangladesh’s match against Oman, Ashwin had hinted at backing the associate nation.
“Can’t wait to see the Bangladesh v Oman game. If Bangladesh win, the whole country will be happy but if Oman does Cricket will be happy. #WT20,” he’d tweeted. It set off an angry tirade against him with one Bangladeshi fan tweeting, “@ashwinravi99 I reckon you praying for Oman to win as you don’t wanna face the Tigers!!!!”
“I wanted to archive your tweet,then thought for a minute and decided it might not be worth my time” Ashwin responded. When another fan wrote, “you are rite ashwin, if Bangladesh wins BD will be happy. But if Oman wins only India will happy. Say it openly man ” Ashwin tried to explain his stance saying, “What about Oman?Even if I go by what u say,it’s 2 countries over just one.For gods sake understand a tweet.” Once Bangladesh started dominating proceedings another fan wrote, “By the way, please keep posting those tweets in every BD game! Tamim will score a Hundred and BD will rock.”
It was Ashwin’s turn to back off. “done deal,but won’t tweet when they are playing us.Dont want to risk.” He did, however, tweet later praising opener Tamim Iqbal’s century.
Back in December 2015, Ashwin and Ravindra Jadeja were running through the South African batting line-up on pitches that had a lot on offer for them. It was when India had opted for a generous amount of “home advantage” to bring an end to the Proteas’ unbeaten run on the road. Former Australian fast bowler Rodney Hogg, not one to hold back his punches either, critiqued the pitches and taken a jab at Ashwin in particular.
“@ICC @ashwinravi99 @BCCI Ashwin have a look in the mirror and ask yourself were the recent wickets a bit too spinner friendly,” Hogg tweeted. Ashwin opted for a “pot calling kettle black” type response tweeting, “@RMHogg @ICC @BCCI sure,let’s just share the same mirror or should I order two??”
Ashwin wasn’t part of India’s T20 squad against England in early 2017. It was the time India had discovered the need for wrist spin and introduced Yuzvendra Chahal. Meanwhile, Mooen Ali was having a good time and a fan decided to take a dig at Ashwin. “@ashwinravi99 are you watching @MoeenAli bowl, learn something as you are anyway not playing.” the fan wrote to which Ashwin responded, “I tuned in after he finished his spell on purpose.”
Twitter has never back down from drawing comparisons between Ashwin and fellow off-spinner Harbhajan Singh. When India were defeating all-comers during their mega home season in late 2016, Harbhajan had tweeted about the pitches posting, “Kumble and my test wicket count would have been something else if we got wickets like last 4 years we playing on,” in response to a fan’s comment. The two off-spinners ended up using Twitter and that tweet in particular to quell the strongly-perceived rivalry between them. “@harbhajan_singh has been an inspiration nd I started bowling off spin only after seeing the 2001 series. This banter going on is unhealthy,” tweeted Ashwin. “Dear got nothing against you. For some reasons my words are misconstrued. Wish you nothing but the best ?? Keep the flag high! God bless,” Harbhajan replied.