A Twitter sensation and a credible voice on Indian Cricket, Johns, who is based out of Kerala, has managed to keep all the fans hooked to the game. An engineering student who claims to be shy while communicating with strangers interacts with hundreds daily.
In this interview, Johns talks about his journey. He also sheds light on the challenges he faced on Twitter, his plans, and Mufa.
A word that strikes when one views your profile is ‘Imperfect’. It is mentioned twice on your profile. What is the reason?
There are many imperfections in my life. It is hard to change them several times. Communication with strangers has been an issue in my life. There have been occasions where I regret what I said to others. Although it seems to be changing now.
Tell us about yourself and your background.
I have completed my Engineering degree from the Mechanical branch. After that, I had a brief stint of working in a company in Karnataka. I have worked with a few sports websites and have managed pages for some TNPL teams.
Currently, I am working with another website. Besides, I also do paid tweets.
From 2016 to now, you have had a huge number of followers. With that, you are also one of the most credible voices on Indian Cricket Twitter. When you started, did you ever anticipate this or was it by chance?
I did start my Twitter journey in 2016, but I have only been active since 2018. I was a moderator on one of the groups on Facebook from where I used to Tweet the news regarding Cricket. I was actively doing my work in 2018, but the 2019 World Cup can be seen as a crucial moment.
During the World Cup, I got a retweet from Ian Bishop. One of my tweets regarding the Semi-Finals went viral. These activities got me some reach.
The role of journalists in this journey has been crucial. Many of them from different parts of the country have provided me with news. Thus, I believe it is a collective effort.
An increase in followers has helped on several occasions – in the form of paid tweets; forming contact with influencers – who later helped me improve my content. However, it also comes with its drawbacks. If you commit a mistake, then people have a go at you.
Social Media is a tricky place. The number of likes, retweets, etc. can either motivate people or do otherwise. How have you dealt with the moments where you felt the response was not up to the mark?
It mostly happens when I report a game wherein India is not playing. Sometimes it is tough, but I have found my peace with that simply because I know how this space works. Before 2019 it was hard, but the experience I gained after that has helped me deal with such situations.
I believe that the engagement is increasing now, even for a ‘non-India’ match, which is a good sign.
With a widening reach, it is very natural for anyone to feel the pressure. Have you ever experienced that?
There are two incidents that I can recall regarding this issue. Before 2019, I would update the score on a ball-to-ball basis, via Twitter. I have stopped that for the last two years because that would result in plenty of tweets in one day, and the followers also seemed to look disinterested.
The second instance is when two matches are happening simultaneously. People expect me to give the update on both the games, but they perhaps don’t understand it is tough for one person with one Twitter Id to report on everything.
I have got DMs from people asking me the reason for not covering a particular match that happened at midnight (Indian time). People expect me to be active 24/7 but that is impossible.
However, I can’t complain because all these people have been pivotal to my growth in recent years. I used to block people earlier, but I find that a little difficult for the last few years.
Social media is imperative to a sport in any given region. How do you think it has affected the sporting culture in India?
Social Media has had a great impact on sports. It has acted as a bridge to fill the gap between fans and the players. Earlier, there was very little interaction. Many players are involved in direct conversations when they allow their fans to ask them questions via Tweets.
On the other hand, there are also a few disadvantages. Many players avoid interacting directly because of the trolls.
You’ve had a few parody accounts as well. How do you see them?
It is tough. I have received DMs from people complaining about the information which has been put out under my name. Many still get confused between the real and the parody account. It has been happening since 2021.
Initially, it was tough to communicate, but as I said before, my experience has helped me here as well.
What do you view as your long-term career option – Cricket journalism, analysis, or something completely different?
It will not be related to Cricket. From what I have learned in the last few years, it is difficult to survive in Cricket. Especially when you compare it to the field of Football, there are many opportunities in the latter. There are already plenty of cases of Umpires, scorers, and the ground staff not getting paid. You need to be really good to survive in that space, and I don’t believe I am that good at the moment.
I will be moving away soon, but I don’t exactly know when. The following two years will be deciding my future. In that case, I will need to cut down my time on the app and categorise it like earlier times.
No Johns’s interview is complete without the mention of your Twitter mate Mufaddal Vohra. Tell me something about your relationship.
We chat on Whatsapp, on occasions. There have been instances, as I mentioned before where I unknowingly put out untrue information. The conversations have been regarding those things. Nothing beyond that, although we do get in touch with one another when needed.