Indian cricket July 13, 2012

A response to Harsha Bhogle

Gaurav Kalra
The reality is that in the current environment access to players, especially marquee players like Tendulkar, is becoming increasingly limited

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

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