India news May 28, 2013

Dhoni protected from tough questions


On the eve of the Indian team's departure to England for the Champions Trophy - their first assignment after a controversial IPL - MS Dhoni was barred by the BCCI-appointed media manager, RN Baba, from answering any question related to the alleged corruption issues in the league.

Each time a question about the controversy was put forth during the 14-minute interaction, Baba intervened. It appeared as though Baba, who is from the Tamil Nadu Cricket Association, was under strict instructions to not let the captain respond to any query that was remotely concerned with the controversy.

Before the start of the press conference, Baba had announced that the interaction was "strictly pertaining to Champions Trophy and no other questions will be answered". But considering the number of arrests that have been made in the last couple of weeks, including those of four first-class cricketers, the questions had to be asked.

Four times Dhoni was asked to share his views on the alleged corruption issue. 'What do you have to say about spot-fixing? Has there been an impact on players going into the Champions Trophy?' 'As the leader of the Indian cricket fraternity, why isn't that we've not heard from you so far?' 'Can you guarantee Indian cricket fans that during the Champions Trophy, there will be no mischief on the field?' 'Do you know Vindoo Dara Singh personally?'

Baba waited for each question to be completed before fending it off by saying, "next question, please." Almost on every occasion, Dhoni's face turned blank. Only once did he react with his trademark grin.

This was in stark contrast to a usual Dhoni press conference that often ends up as a light-hearted interaction. But considering that Indian cricket is going through one of its most tumultuous phases that's resulted in arrests of players, bookies, film actors and the BCCI president's son-in-law, everyone who had congregated at a five-star hotel next to Mumbai's international airport knew this was not going to be the usual freewheeling chat.

Dhoni had evaded questions during the last week of the IPL at least three times, even skipping what used be a mandatory pre-match press conference for captains on the eve of the final. However, with the Indian team set to depart for England for participating in the last edition of the Champions Trophy, he had to face the media on Tuesday evening.

Finally, a seasoned journalist diplomatically asked Dhoni whether the team would enter the Champions Trophy with an extra sense of responsibility - the last question of the interaction.

"As cricketers, we always have that extra sense of responsibility with us," Dhoni said. "It is our job to bring people into the arena and to encourage the youngsters who aspire to take up (cricket) as a livelihood and as professional cricketers. There is a responsibility on us and hopefully we can fulfill it to our potential."

Amol Karhadkar is a correspondent at ESPNcricinfo

Comments have now been closed for this article

  • Dummy4 on June 1, 2013, 22:24 GMT

    Dhoni did the right thing in not answering the sensitive questions of the press when the entire matter of spot fixing in under probe particularily when is team owner is following corrupt practices. I fully support Dhoni. I Not only cricket the whole govt. is indulging in scams. Hence it is but natural for the system get corrupted. If the spot fixing had the blessings of the tops CBI would have protected the culprits. It is time that every one should question his soul whether they are sincere or not. Lord Krishna only has to protect India from corruption and scams.

  • KARVENT on May 30, 2013, 10:55 GMT

    Medias always do something which give them Front page Headlines. They never think the impacts about the questions they're asking. Some questions mentioned here in the article (as asked in press conference) certainly make a player's confidence in question. This same media will speak very badly if that player not performed well in the field. Absolutely MSD did the right thing to avoid these questions. Ask questions fairly and allow them play cricket fairly. Don't critizises all, bcoz of few culprits wrong doing.

  • Deccan on May 30, 2013, 8:15 GMT

    Dhoni has won everything: World Cup, World Twenty20, Test No.1, ODI No.1, IPL, CL T20. This trophy is the only missing piece in his cabinet. All the best to him. (His fan from Pakistan)

  • Dummy4 on May 30, 2013, 4:33 GMT

    Honestly, there couldn't have been a better way of answering the media. MS Dhoni did just the right thing. I don't think he was gagged. I think he chose to remain silent. And even if he chose to answer the media would NOT have gotten what they wanted. Why the hue and cry?

  • Dummy4 on May 29, 2013, 18:20 GMT

    Who is to say that the same media will not have raised a hue and cry if Dhoni had come out with some statement on the recent controversies?? Then they would have perhaps gone to town saying that Dhoni should have kept his mouth shut on the eve of an important tournament as it would effect the moral of the team!!! Let his bat and keeping gloves do the talking.

  • Easwara on May 29, 2013, 18:16 GMT

    @Shaiju Cr: Well said my friend. MSD did right thing by not answering about scandal and also he can't speak for everybody as when it comes to such horradous scandal its the player who involved and Captain had no clue until it was found. So media can't make Captain responsible, in that aspect no oher person can help except the person who involved in it. Youngster should learn about diplomacy, and credibility goes to the individual player. Individual player should be responsible, one thing can probably be done is franchisees not allowing players to meet anyone else except officials to reduce these incidents. Just thinking loud here, maybe they should have few phones dedicated to team managed by a official who can review give the phone to players when someone from their family called. Just trying to be causious though there is still room for mischiefs with this approach but can probably limit it. Go Team India, good luck and hope Team India come back with cup.

  • randolf on May 29, 2013, 15:04 GMT

    I feel very sorry for MS Dhoni. Along wiith Rahul Dravid, I think that they are the two most honest Indian cricketers I've ever seen - even in terms of fair play on the field, even in circumstances when they are the ones to be disadvantaged at their fair decisions. Now, though Dhoni is not involved in any scandal, he has to be ducking questions all over the globe, due to the amount of corruption that is involved in India cricket! It is unfair to the young captain and those involved should be SENT TO THE CLEANERS! The rest of us (cricket fans from the rest of the world) have always been trying to find out how some of the glaring nonsense (selection decisions, etc) that we are seeing taking place in India cricket happening without any investigations! Now the wheels of the corrupt vehicle is coming off and the culprits are being exposed. Jail all of them!

  • Pavan on May 29, 2013, 14:42 GMT

    Why shouldn't he answer about Spot Fixing?? He atleast needs to speak what he thinks...he can do so diplomatically. Whats so wrong in that? Why shouldn't media bring this out? This is more important than Champions Trophy. This is in the long term best interests of the game and Indian cricket. We can sacrifice one Champions trophy and even SA tour if that means more pressure on the Board and players to come clean. Nobody is above fans and game. That is why media is bringing it out and rightly so. I just wish they keep up the pressure on the board and the team.

  • Dummy4 on May 29, 2013, 13:48 GMT

    Damn it why are those reporters so hostile. He was just a player in CSK and I totally understand his silence.

  • Pritpal on May 29, 2013, 13:33 GMT

    This was all Indian media asking questions about fixing.. Imagine how british media will react in their press conf.. Good luck Team India... Just play the game and keep your focus on cricket only.... These are surely tough times...