ICC CRICKET WORLD CUP, 2019
Jofra Archer’s Twitter account has stolen the show during this World Cup ©AFP
Jofra Archer has 19 dismissals at an average of 22.05. His economy rate of 4.61 is the second lowest among the top 50 wicket-takers. The 24-year old is also near the summit when taking the speed gun into account. Yet, this World Cup, his Twitter account has stolen the show.
If you’re not familiar, the long and short of it is in Archer’s younger days he was a prolific Tweeter, particularly when watching cricket. As such, within his 40-thousand-plus tweets are countless observations that can be recycled to reflect what is taking place right now – many of them involved players Archer is now either playing or against. Much like @dril, there is a tweet for everything.
The reason the “Jofradamus” shtick has gained so much traction is due to the manner he fired off random and regular observations. A second-screen experience at warp speed and, as such, his timeline is a treasure-trove for a variety of occasions, players and situations. All are without context and, thus, full of limitless satirical potential.
“I don’t know why this should be a big thing!” he laughed when it was put to him after England’s semi-final win over Australia.
Cricket 365 compiled a match report made entirely from Archer’s tweets. This being the internet, copy-cat articles sprung up all over the place, but his musings since joining Twitter in April 2011 have been enjoyed for a good few years now.
But among tweets telling batsmen to buy two helmets, asking Glenn Maxwell if he’s “gine out stupid every game” and wondering if certain umpires are smoking spliffs, he is a prolific sharer and contributor on matters ranging from letting your girlfriend see your phone to getting escorted out of the cookout after I grab my third plate and they find out I’m not related to anybody. He is almost certainly English cricket’s first “Black Twitter” user.
Black Twitter, a phrase coined by a woman known as Feminist Jones (real name Michelle Taylor), is an online space initially cultivated by African Americans as a place where they felt comfortable doing what most people on Twitter do: sharing funny content and generally whittling the time away. Crucially, users were able to use slang and colloquialisms they understand without having to explain or justify themselves to a wider audience.
If you have come across a meme you’ve enjoyed, it almost certainly came from Black Twitter. There is creativity in abundance and, because of that, the community has expanded to such an extent that Black Twitter is a genuine cultural movement. One that, as well as the wry and savage satire, has united to draw attention to gross injustices, especially racism.
What is particularly noticeable is how emboldened younger Black Twitter users are. Social media is full of kryptonite for self-esteem yet, here, they relish discovering who they are and encouraging their peers to do the same.
“Young people often feel confident on Black Twitter because their voices are amplified by others who look like them,” Victoria Sanusi, co-host of the Black Gals Livin’ Podcast, tells Cricbuzz. “It’s a safe space to share what’s really on your mind without having to explain to someone what the word ‘peng’ means, for example. Lots of black people are often excluded or our voices are ignored by mainstream – so Black Twitter acts as a space where you can be heard.”
What you are starting to see now are people who have grown up on Black Twitter channelling that confidence into mainstream circles, such as professional sports. This is especially the case in America, particularly basketball, with the NBA always a rich source of meme-able content. Maybe it’s no coincidence Archer has taken international cricket in his stride, with such self-assurance. He’s had a support network of millions.
The reason this is important and the reason it matters is that there is much discussion on what part social media can play in spreading the cricket. In Eoin Morgan’s pre-final press conference at Lord’s, the England skipper spoke about the importance Sunday’s free-to-air final could be and knowingly referenced how crucial the match’s online footprint. And while you can lament how much of the younger generation put into social media, it is a place for them, by them where they run wild on the things they love the most.
That, really, is the most beautiful thing about Archer’s Tweets. Here was a black kid so infatuated with the game and desperate to share his love for it as immediately and widely as possible.
Archer’s success this World Cup, along with whatever he pulls out of the bag on Sunday, will not be enough to rectify the way English cricket has shamefully let its Afro-Caribbean diaspora slide. But there is a chance black kids tuning in on Sunday may see themselves in him.
And hopefully they’ll tweet about it.