Aussie cricket superstar Steve Smith has been compared to a robot, with fans suggesting he had a ‘gun held to his head’ in a bizarre video announcing his return to the Indian Premier League (IPL).
It’s not yet known whether the 33-year-old, who is the No.3-ranked Test batter in the world, will be playing or commentating in the eight-week tournament, which begins on Friday morning (AEST).
But all anyone could talk about was the uncomfortably awkward manner he delivered his announcement in.
‘Namaste, India. I’ve got some exciting news for you: I’m joining IPL 2023,’ Smith said in the awkward video posted on his social media pages.
‘Yes, that’s right, I’m joining an exceptional and passionate team in India.’
Steve Smith (pictured when playing for the Rajasthan Royals in 2019) took to social media to announce he would be returning to the IPL, though it is not known in what capacity yet
On their own, the words don’t sound particularly exciting or exceptional – but the way they were delivered has sent literally millions of fans around the world into fits of laughter.
Smith did not blink once in the 15-second video, and it was definitely noticed by the 2.5million people who viewed the tweet.
‘Just watching this is making my eyes feel dry. BLINK, STEVE. FOR THE LOVE OF GOD, BLINK!’ one fan wrote.
‘Some hostage video this’, one laughed, with another writing they couldn’t ‘tell if he’s being held hostage or if this is a deep-fake’.
Veteran journalist Russell Bennett made a similar joke, linking Smith’s propensity to talk without blinking as a sign he was being held captive to make the announcement.
‘I am not being held hostage – as I’ll demonstrate here by a complete lack of blinking,’ he wrote, while one cricket tragic said the video would haunt his dreams: ‘Good luck watching this and trying to sleep tonight’.
West Coast Eagles legend Will Schofield joked that he thought Smith was being held hostage in the awkward video
Many fans were alarmed at Smith’s lack of blinking
One fan posted a meme that shows how they thought Smith might have been filmed
It appears many fans still haven’t forgotten Smith’s role in the now-infamous Sandpapergate
It did not go unnoticed that Smith didn’t blink once in the 20 second video
Many fans also pointed to an iconic Simpsons scene where Smithers forces singer Tom Jones to smile and perform with gun pointed at his back
One sarcastic fan believes he knows the secret to Smith’s incredible batting abilities
Many fans thought Smith was being held hostage
Smith’s namesake, a sports journalist who often gets mistaken for the cricketer online, also laid the boot in
One even pointed out the prospect of this video being the best of what was surely a very bad bunch: ‘F***ing hell. How bad must the other takes have been for this one to chosen as the one to use?’
There was also a huge amount of mischievous fans who compared a wooden Smith to a robot, suggesting the video was not in fact him, but generated by AI software.
‘Most advanced robot I’ve ever seen….I hope it brings some spare batteries with it in case it runs out of energy in India’, one fan wrote, with another commenting on Smith’s : ‘They aren’t twitches when he bats, they are glitches’.
‘I thought of an AI video in first look’ said one commenter, with another writing it was a ‘huge week in Generative AI technology, as evidenced below’.
One fan was more scathing that joking in his retort.
‘Everyone wanna see #droidsmith – what on gods green is this absolute f***pile of a message. Didn’t get enough money so he sent the robot outside to film it’, the fuming fan wrote.
Steve Smith was roasted on social media and compared to a robot, not blinking once in the 20 second video announcing his IPL return
Smith, pictured playing for the Rajasthan Royals in 2017, last played in the IPL in 2021
As mentioned, it is not known yet whether Smith, who is hugely popular in India, will be commentating or playing in the IPL, where he has played 103 matches across 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 didn’t nominate for this year’s auction but can be picked up as a last-minute injury replacement – and several teams do need one.
A cat amongst the pigeons is the fact Smith also has a contract with English County Championship side Sussex, to play as many as three first-class matches during May – when the IPL will still be going on.