April 14, 2001

Media should avoid running down players at every opportunity

The recently concluded series between India and Australia, apart from providing a lot of excitement, also offered a fair bit of entertainment due to the varying stances taken by some of the scribes relating to some issues. After the last one-dayer at Goa, the 'bogus ticket' scandal has been in the news adding grist to the mill. It was appalling to read an article written by one of the Australian scribes in a local daily after the conclusion of the series. The article reeked of deep-rooted contempt for the Indians, which probably is not based on issues alone. Even more stunning was the publication of that article with the editors hardly doing justice to the sentiments of either the country or the countrymen. One wonders if the obsequious attitude of Indians towards the Westerners will ever change. The particular column I am referring to had nothing but gossip picked up in the bar, which is suggestive of the scribe's knowledge about the game.

One of the most debated issues during the entire series was the behaviour of the Indian skipper Saurav Ganguly. The media carried reports untiringly about his apparent arrogance and his deemed disregard to certain traditions of the game. He may have been guilty of not doing a few things correctly but quite obviously the persistent hammering of Ganguly was definitely not the right thing either for the scribes to have done. Ganguly may be prone to 'reacting syndrome' but he could have done without the consistent needling. As a captain he must have also felt that the media was leaning more towards the Australians ever since their arrival in this country. There is some merit with that notion and one just got the feeling that the monthly subscriptions were done for newspapers published in Australia going by the hype given to the Aussies before the start of the series. Agreed that the Aussies came to India with an awesome record but it has to be borne in mind that most of their victories were at home. I am not suggesting that the Aussies do well only at home but it has eventually been proved that even a very good side can find it difficult to succeed away from home.

It is apt to mention in this context that the Indians are heavily criticised for lack of results abroad but it has to be remembered that almost every side has better results at home. Take the case of Shane Warne. He is without doubt a great bowler but then his figures in India have not been anything to harp on and mind you he has come to India on two tours. That being the case none of the Indian scribes even wrote anything adverse about Warne, leave alone having a go at him. I am not advocating the scribes to blast touring players but the attitude of running down the Indian cricketers at the first available opportunity is something which should be avoided. What is inexplicable is the fact that the Indian scribes do go abroad and read the local reports which only aim to demoralise the visiting sides and yet they keep sticking to their own agenda.

The recent series saw a face-off situation between the media and the Indian skipper, which was a product of a continuous action-reaction process. The lack of form also must have been an additive to the captain's edginess. Ganguly took up the mantle at a very difficult juncture in Indian cricket and since then the team has acquitted itself creditably. He has to be given time to improve not only as a captain but also as a tactful spokesman. Ganguly on his part would do well to have a talk with Ajit Wadekar who was a past master at getting scribes around to his side, to the extent that even a practice session was considered phenomenal during Wadekar's tenure as a coach. Ganguly does have the support of his present coach John Wright, but he should realise that he is bound to receive a lot of flak as a captain which he should learn to take in his stride.

With the next series scheduled to be played in Zimbabwe, the Indian captain has to come to terms with a few facts of life and try and ensure that he adopts a more tolerant approach towards his detractors. Conversely the members of the fourth estate should also realise that their reports really have a big influence on the public and therefore underplay the negative side of things especially during the series. Of course there will be lot of topics that can be dwelled upon and the administrators never run short of ways and means that keep the people interested. One's throat is hoarse after reiterating that the staging associations should fulfil certain criteria before they are allotted an international match. It is not enough if the rigors of having an evaluation committee are applied only in the case of a World Cup.