Walia denies communication gap within Indian team
GS Walia, India's media manager on tour in Australia, addressed the press on behalf of the team to try to douse reports of a communication breakdown between the senior players. Not the captain, coach, senior players or team manager, but the media manager was entrusted with a responsibility of such delicate nature.
To quote Walia verbatim in certain matters might still be unfair because he often exceeded the brief of a media manager. Once, to a question if certain earlier press conferences this tour had affected the team, Walia said, "Certainly… [all] facts were given to the nation. I don't want to get into why it happened. Let us all be positive."
Back to the beginning. Walia began by saying there had been no communication gap, but when reminded of Virender Sehwag's comments that MS Dhoni had given him and the press two entirely different reasons for resting the seniors, Walia kept repeating the phrase, "Let's not analyse it further."
What makes it a serious matter is that Sehwag said Dhoni had told him he was resting the seniors because he wanted the young players to get more experience and chances. But in a press conference Dhoni said playing all three senior batsmen together would cost the side an extra 20 runs in the field. Sehwag didn't take that comment well; he said that his fielding had been the same for 10 years, and also pointed to a full-length diving catch he took against Sri Lanka in Brisbane.
The BCCI - at least in public - dismissed it all as misquoting by the media, but unconfirmed reports from India suggested the top brass had got in touch with the players and asked them to sort out the issues in a meeting on Thursday. Walia said that no such meeting happened, but that he had let the team know "immediately" after Sehwag's press conference on February 21 that "this is not a small thing".
"Immediately when we came back along with Sehwag, I told everybody," Walia said. "Because this is not a small thing. The nation must know what is happening here. You are the only medium through which the information is passed on to the whole nation. So I conveyed this to them immediately, in exactly the same terms. Everybody was there. All 17. They said, 'Sir, nothing else. There is no difference, but we will be vigilant in future. If somebody has seen there is a communication gap, we will try to avoid that situation in future.' So let us now all concentrate on the game."
Walia said the team is concerned about the reports that have appeared in the media. "First of all, I'll tell you there was no communication gap," Walia said. "But whatsoever is being shown or media is writing, the team is certainly concerned about it."
The press let him know that they had been reporting whatever the players were telling them. They wanted to know how the BCCI got an impression the players were being misquoted, because it is not possible to do so with press conferences that are recorded on camera and beamed directly on televisions. Walia admitted there was no misquoting, and that there might have been a communication gap between the team and the board.
"At a distance, if the president has said it, it is maybe his views," Walia said. "But I have never said it. I have never blamed the media.
"There could be a communication gap. Seeing things from a distance. Let us all forget [everything]."
The refrain of Walia's address was to forget all that had happened, and that the team was looking forward to the remaining two matches. "I am not blaming the media, but they [the players] are concerned," he said. "They are more concerned [than you].
"I think they are very positive about it. To play the next two matches in a positive way, and to their real potential. We played first four matches, and we lost one, but in the next three they came to their potential. Now the team again wants the next two matches should be like that only.
"Let us not analyse the same situation, why this was generated, how it came to this. Let us forget it and be positive in the future."
Edited by Abhishek Purohit
Sidharth Monga is an assistant editor at ESPNcricinfo