It is no exaggeration to say that, for sports fans, 2020 is a year like no other. In January, it promised to be special with a sensational lineup of events. The start of a new decade. Two T20 cricket world cup tournaments. The European Football Championships. The Olympics. And so much more.
And then, in March, there were none.
In what seems to be a dystopian time on the field around the world (even the maidans in Mumbai are empty these days), an already cult figure in the online community has emerged as a saviour of sorts for the masses craving for cricket.
If you are a cricket fan familiar with YouTube, chances are you know robelinda (or, more specifically, robelinda2). The name would immediately ring a bell for anyone who has spent time on the video streaming platform, watching an old cricket video.
The man behind the two YouTube channels worth a combined count of more than 737 million views is Australian Rob Moody, whose extensive collection of old cricket footage has kept fans on social media going with no live cricket to watch. For those growing up in the information age as cricket fans, robelinda is a name synonymous with “cricket gold”.
“Well, it started in 2000 when my then girlfriend (now wife) created a joint email account. I came up with robelinda as a good mix of our names. It’s stuck since,” Rob Moody, who identifies himself as a “cricket megafan,” told Scroll.in.
While YouTube is where he made his name, it is on Twitter these days where he does his best work. Taking requests from fans, he uploads clippings directly to the social media platform or post links to YouTube. The tweets typically go viral within the day among cricket fans.
And these days, even among cricketers.
“It’s incredible for me to get feedback and general comments from former international cricketers on social media,” Moody said. “It’s especially amazing that they want to see old videos of themselves or just particular instances for matches they were involved in.”
Former Australian cricket Greg Blewett, believe it or not, is a part of the origin story for this YouTube hero.
“Well I first started uploading cricket footage to YouTube in 2010, when a few friends wanted to watch a Greg Blewett 100 against England from 1998, and it steamrolled from there,” he said about his online journey. “And I first recorded a cricket match to video tape in 1982/83 Australian season, which was the Ashes. I was five years old, then.”
While he has footage from around the globe, the most popular videos on his channel are usually of matches in or involving Australia and of course, Sachin Tendulkar.
Moody, who plays guitar and saxophone for Royal Caribbean cruises with The Australian INXS Show, described himself as a freestyle archive collector and editor. Millions of cricket fans worldwide, brought closer together by internet, make their requests to him and with his not-for-profit channel (no ads, so no monetisation) he obliges.
“I just try and make people happy as best I can,” he said.
In an interesting move, the governing body of the game International Cricket Council had recently opened up its archive. The move was aimed at giving fans throughout the world the opportunity to relive some of the greatest cricketing moments of the last 45 years as millions around the world stay at home due to the Covid-19 pandemic.
Around the same time, Moody gave his legion of fans a scare when he said his channel could be struck down by the ICC over copyrights. But his view on that is not what you’d expect it to be.
“It only affects videos on YouTube that the ICC has direct copyright over. I am very excited the ICC has opened it’s archives and what content it can provide to a cricket starved fanned in this current climate,” the 42-year-old said.
Has he ever thought ‘this is all a bit too much’ to handle?
“Yes sometimes it’s a bit daunting, especially in regards to social media, people want everything now! Personally having control of my archive is a never ending task, but it gets easier as technology evolves,” Moody said.
And of course, the passion for the game is what keeps him going.
“I can only remember discovering cricket as a child and just loving it, now as an adult I can see wh the golden footage from Australian cricket in the 80’s and 90’s is iconic,” he said. “It’s entertaining to this day. New generations of fans are seeing this footage and seeing how different the game was back then, such energy and passion.”
And at times when cricket reporters around the world scramble for story ideas while administrators wait with uncertainty over the immediate short-term future of the game, Moody is busy checking things off the request list. A lot of people are requesting footage and his Twitter feed is evidence enough of how busy a day can get.
“I’ll just be going about my usual duties and connecting with fans and providing footage here I can, and having a lot of fun in the process,” he said.
Cometh the hours without live cricket, cometh the man with a sensational archive of cricket footage. In these times of social distancing, Moody is making social media the place to be for cricket fans.