Aussie cricket superstar Steve Smith has been compared to a robot, with fans suggesting he has a ‘gun held to his head’ in a bizarre video announcing his return to the Indian Premier League (IPL).
It is not yet known whether the 33-year-old, who is the No.3-ranked Test batter in the world, will play or commentate during the eight-week tournament, which starts on Friday morning (AEST).
But all anyone could talk about was the uncomfortable way he delivered his announcement.
‘Namaste, India. I have some exciting news for you: I have joined IPL 2023,’ Smith said in the awkward video posted on his social media pages.
‘Yes, that’s right, I’m joining an extraordinary and passionate team in India.’
Steve Smith (pictured while playing for Rajasthan Royals in 2019) took to social media to announce that he will be returning to the IPL, though in what capacity is not yet known.
In themselves, the words are not particularly exciting or unique – but the way they are delivered has literally made millions of fans around the world burst into laughter.
Smith didn’t blink once in the 15-second video, and the 2.5 million people who viewed the tweet must have noticed.
Just watching it makes my eyes feel dry. BLINK, STEVE. FOR THE LOVE OF GOD, BLINK!’ a fan wrote.
‘Some hostage video this’, one laughed, with another writing they couldn’t ‘tell if he was a hostage or if it was a deep fake’.
Veteran journalist Russell Bennett made a similar joke, linking Smith’s tendency to speak without blinking as a sign that he was being held captive to make the announcement.
‘I am not a hostage – as I will show here with a complete lack of blinking,’ he wrote, while a cricketer said the video would haunt his dreams: ‘Good luck watching this and trying to sleep tonight’.
West Coast Eagles legend Will Schofield joked he thought Smith was a hostage in the awkward video
Many fans were alarmed by Smith’s lack of blinking
One fan posted a meme showing how they thought Smith might have been shot
It seems many fans still haven’t forgotten Smith’s role in the infamous Sandpapergate today.
Notably, Smith didn’t blink once in the 20-second video
Many fans also pointed to an iconic Simpsons scene where Smithers forced singer Tom Jones to smile and perform with a gun pointed at his back.
One cheeky fan believes he knows the secret to Smith’s incredible batting ability
Many fans speculated that Smith had been taken hostage
Smith’s namesake, a sports journalist often mistaken for a cricketer online, also put in the boot
One even pointed out that this video prospect is the best of what is sure to be a very bad bunch: ‘F***ing hell. How hard does it take for others to choose this one as the one to use?’
There was also a large number of mischievous fans who compared a wooden Smith to a robot, suggesting that the video was not actually him, but generated by AI software.
‘Most advanced robot I’ve ever seen….I hope it carries some spare batteries in case it runs out of power in India’, wrote one fan, with another commenting on Smith’s : ‘They don’t even flinch when he bat, they are glitches’.
‘I thought of an AI video at first glance’ said one commenter, with another writing that it was a ‘big week in Generative AI technology, as evidenced below’.
One fan took more pain in the joke with his answer.
‘Everyone wants to see #droidsmith – what in gods green is this absolute f***pile of a message. Didn’t get enough money so he sent the robot outside to shoot it’, the fuming fan wrote.
Steve Smith was grilled on social media and compared to a robot, not blinking once in a 20-second video announcing his IPL comeback
Smith, pictured playing for Rajasthan Royals in 2017, last played in the IPL in 2021
As mentioned, it is not yet known whether Smith, who is hugely popular in India, will commentate or play in the IPL, where he has played 103 matches against four different franchises.
Smith last played in the league in 2021 for the Delhi Capitals, before going unsold in the auction the following season.
He’s not nominated for this year’s auction but could be picked up as a last-minute injury replacement – and many teams need one.
One cat among the pigeons is the fact that Smith also has a contract with English County Championship side Sussex, to play up to three first-class matches in May – when the IPL will still resume.