July 13, 2012

Indian cricket

A response to Harsha Bhogle

Gaurav Kalra
Sachin Tendulkar looks on as Delhi Daredevils run up a big score, Delhi Daredevils v Mumbai Indians, IPL, Delhi, April 27, 2012
"Any working cricket journalist will confirm that convincing players to do interviews is extremely hard these days"  © AFP
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In all my years of having known and worked with Harsha Bhogle, I haven't really disagreed much with him on much. But I do have a bone to pick with him over one line from his piece from this morning (albeit a small bone): "Meanwhile there has been a flood of Tendulkar interviews - more, I suspect, because there was the offer of a trip to Germany for the interviewers rather than any major issues that needed airing".

Since I was among the three interviewers on the trip, its only fair I set the record straight. I can only speak for myself here but I really don't have any fascination for a two-day trip to Germany. Having travelled the world both professionally and personally, the allure of going half-way across the planet to a small German town (believe me, Herzogenaurach is not the Swiss Alps!) is hardly an attraction.

So why did I go on this sponsored trip by Adidas? The reality is that in the current environment access to players, especially marquee players like Tendulkar, is becoming increasingly limited. Any working cricket journalist will confirm that convincing players to do interviews is extremely hard these days. So when we were made an offer to do this interview in Germany, I felt there was editorial merit in doing so. Had they said this interview was available in their office here in Delhi, I would have done it there! So the "offer of a trip" wasn't a temptation in the least!

I also respectfully disagree with Harsha that there weren't "any major issues that needed airing" with Tendulkar. In the course of my 20-minute interview (that was the time allotted to me by the minders) I went over what I consider valid issues around Tendulkar. His reasons for not travelling to Sri Lanka, his view on his ODI playing future, his take on whether Test cricket is facing a crisis in India, how important he considers the upcoming season especially with England and Australia arriving, his thoughts on the pressure of the Tendulkar second name on his cricket-crazy son etc.

According to me there were all relevant issues and had I been offered more time, I would have attempted to delve deeper into these issues and asked more. This anyway is a matter of opinion about what is relevant and what isn't. How Tendulkar chose to answer the questions of course is his prerogative, and as Harsha knows Tendulkar can be extremely reserved while speaking publicly. I did the best I could to get him to reflect on 'major issues' and some of what he has said in the interview has been reported widely, including on this website. If I am not mistaken, it was the top story for a few hours too.

Apologies for this long comment on just one line in a column that deals with an entirely different subject, but I am only doing so to clear my position. I was surprised to read the column as it assumed that the reason for the interview was the 'offer of a trip to Germany'. That is simply not true.

Finally, Sachin agreed to do three interviews in Germany- with Sai Mahapatra of ESPN, with me for CNN-IBN and with Pradeep Magazine for Hindustan Times- in the current media environment, given the number of publications and TV channels around, Harsha would agree that doesn't qualify as a 'flood'!

Look forward to disagreeing with Harsha again soon!

Gaurav Kalra is Sports Editor, CNN IBN, India

© ESPN Sports Media Ltd.

Posted by ashok on (August 6, 2012, 17:20 GMT)

Mr. Kalra, these questions were softball questions & dont merit a boondoggle to to Germany. I would have liked to ask the following: a) India lost 8-0 in England, Australia. It appears like Tendulkar cant make any unique differentce to India's fortune. Does he feel that way.? (b) Is Indian cricket ailing right now? If not, why did we lose 8-0. If so, what does he think we can do to fix it. (c) Isnt it important that we know what exactly his long term plans as Indian cricket seems to be held hostage to his picking & choosing where he plays. There is somebody else waiting for his spot. Somebody not as good as him but who likely wont much difference to the end result anyway (remember 0-8 in Eng/Aus with him and now the 4-1 in SL without Tendulkar)

Posted by Gowtham S on (July 25, 2012, 7:37 GMT)

Youve got a chance to talk with Sachin Tendulkar exclusively ! Wherever on the Planet may be ! You should be rather happy for the moment and whatever questions whether relevant or not and should've not responded to any comments! Like others I believe there is nothing new or sensational in the questions put forth to the batting maestero. And what Mr Harsha Bhogle says is absolutely right. I dont see the essence of Media Persons traveling with celebreties on personal trips !

Posted by Sundar on (July 14, 2012, 11:12 GMT)

Harsha was right. There were no major issues that needed airing. All the issue that Gaurav Kalra has mentioned here have already got enough air and paper time and therefore nothing new. As for the claim that it is hard to get interviews these days, I mean don't they already have a gazillion Tendulkar interviews over the years. How many more do they need? Plus, never mind how many times you have traveled the world, 1 more time to another place on the employer's expense is always welcome. So this article does not really hold water and is a poor defense of his position. The fact that Gaurav had to write to justify his act by writing an article clearly betrayed a guilty conscience. I am with Harsha here..

Posted by Ganga on (July 14, 2012, 9:17 GMT)

I understand the reasons but from neutral perspective what is said by harsha seems to be correct. Indeed, it is unusual to see these many interviews by sachin. Infact, it will make you believe what mukul kesavan said other day on celebrating 100 100's however harsh it is.

Posted by Irfan Ahmad on (July 14, 2012, 8:27 GMT)

it is absolutely true that it has become very difficult to interview even lesser known players these days, leave alone the God. Moreover, when Sachin says anything on any topic be it test cricket, Dravid, his future or anything, it is news. And when it comes to paid trips, dear Harsha don't you think that is the norm of the day. And i guess, you would surely, know better....

Posted by Swami on (July 14, 2012, 7:10 GMT)

By flood, Harsha meant the interviews given by sachin over the last couple of months, since his 100th hundred. Surprised that it did not occur to you. And if Sachin's interviews are always guarded and you knew that, surely there shouldnt have been a compelling reason to get another interview out of him all the way from germany. The interview itself was nothing special. Same cliched questions with typicaly irritating responses. Well done!

Posted by Alvin on (July 14, 2012, 5:34 GMT)

Hi Gaurav

Being from the UK, and having lived in India for a couple of years, I understand the fanaticism for cricket in these parts. What I don;t understand is the defensiveness with which you have responded to one of the most respected cricket journalists. Harsha has a very valid point, and getting Sachin's 'insights' on these issues in a far-flung German village doesn't make sense . maybe you don;t have access to Sachin otherwise, or maybe it was the all expense paid trip that prompted you to go, who knows. Either ways, it was really over the top, and your defensive attitude surprises me. Frankly, I don't know much about your work, but Hrsha is well known and respected.

The fact that just 3 journalists bothered going on that trip also says a lot, doesn't it?

regards Alvin

Posted by SAT on (July 14, 2012, 3:46 GMT)

Completely agree with Gaurav. Harsha who is genrally known as one of sincere admirer of Tendulkar, coming up with such a statement is bit surprising though.! Hats of to Gaurav for the way he had wrapped a match stick in a wool & conveyed the message not to take it near the fire anytime again.! Excellent read.! Cheers

Posted by Kapil Choudhary on (July 14, 2012, 0:33 GMT)

Gaurav - you could have put your response in just one sentence - you would be willing to do a free interview with Tendulkar any time at any place and any duration allotted to you would be too short. Honestly, that is the only valid point you have. Other than that, Harsha's criticism is justified. The issues you discussed are all general issues (other than possibly why Tendulkar is not going to Sri Lanka) - not current issues. Also, players are inaccessible to journalists because of the "creative editing" freely done by journalists after these interviews (I am not referring to you and CNN IBN but the media in general). And 3 interviews qualifies as a flood when every other media outlet selectively chooses quotes from those 3 interviews, mashes them together in some random order and presents it as something unique to itself but still very similar to every other channel...

Posted by achettup on (July 13, 2012, 22:49 GMT)

Since when did cricinfo become a forum for feuding so-called journalists? If this guy has such an issue with what Mr Bhogle said, let him sort it out with Mr Bhogle and write about it on his blog. We used to come here to read about cricket, news and scorecards but lately there have been a lot of sensational opinion pieces which were easy to avoid. But this is really taking it too far, I'm really not interested in seeing a flashy headline on your front page that brings me to an article of such little substance or value. Maybe it helps with all the hits to the site, but then you may want to consider calling your site "the tabloid home of cricket on the internet"

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