SO many headlines that we see in our saturated world of 24-hour news would only be interesting, it seems to me, were they the absolute opposite of the ones employed.
This is particularly true in sport, where articles are not unknown to enter into prosaic territory due to the need to come up with something, anything, to fill blank column inches/cyberspace and the fact that some interviewees are reluctant/advised not to give anything away.
As such, while gorging myself on cake and wine in the cricket press boxes of England and Wales, occasionally glancing up from my plate/glass for long enough to make the odd note and type the odd sentence, I like to play a private game of “reverse the headline”.
This essentially involves looking at headlines on the internet and turning them on their head, effectively giving them their converse meaning.
I was particularly struck the other day by one that I saw on the NewsNow website, a source which collates stories – cricketing and otherwise – from all over the world every few minutes and then links them on one handy-to-use platform.
One of the headlines that NewsNow pulled off the Sky Sports website was… “Root: We hope Wood will be fine” – a reference to Mark Wood having injured himself in England’s penultimate World Cup warm-up fixture.
Had the headline instead read: “Root: We hope Wood won’t be fine”, it would have been interesting, and I for one would have clicked on the article faster than you could say “come on you Leeds Superchargers”.
Why, what fun had the introduction read along the lines of… “Joe Root has revealed that England’s players are unanimous in hoping that Mark Wood’s injury keeps him out of World Cup action. The England Test captain said that they all hoped Wood’s dreams would be shattered”, and so on.
A few other random examples to tickle your funny bone…
From the Yorkshire CCC website previewing last week’s County Championship match against Hampshire with captain Steve Patterson ... “Patterson calls for strong start”.
What japery had Patterson instead demanded a weak start, insisting that his side began by losing a flurry of wickets or else serving up a succession of poor deliveries in a variation on the usual theme.
“A bad start is vital,” he might have added, and the “big first hour” not important whatsoever.
Also from the Sky Sports website… “Key: Archer can light up World Cup”.
How much more interesting had Rob Key, the former Kent and England batsman, said that Jofra Archer could not light up the World Cup and that he would, in fact, turn out to be a flop.
And from the Belfast Telegraph… “Morgan believes England are on course for crack at ultimate glory”.
Once again, how much more fascinating had Eoin Morgan, the England captain, said that his side were not on course for a crack at ultimate glory – ie, not on course for winning the World Cup.
In fact, you can apply the rule to many stories/headlines that you see in media outlets every day of the week; we are all guilty of it and have fallen into the trap.
Before anyone accuses me of biting the hand that feeds, I shall close with some words of wisdom from Groucho Marx.
“If you find it hard to laugh at yourself, I would be happy to do it for you.”