India v England, 1st ODI, Delhi

Dravid walks out on chaotic press conference

Siddhartha Vaidyanathan at Delhi

March 27, 2006

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Rahul Dravid wasn't as composed as this picture suggests throughout the entire press conference © Getty Images
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There are a few inauspicious ways to start an important series. One of them, as Rahul Dravid discovered, is to be subjected to a chaotic press conference. As he sat facing the media, trying to gather his thoughts and answer a few questions, he witnessed a loud verbal skirmish between the television cameramen and still-photographers, and saw things get worse when a few journalists intervened. Unable to watch the spectacle anymore, an incensed Dravid got up, huffed, and walked off.

It was a mess waiting to happen. Press conferences, in most Indian grounds, are conducted in undersized halls. Here at the Feroz Shah Kotla in Delhi, television cameramen, still- photographers, and reporters had to endure the presence of officials and some general public as well. TV cameramen filled the back row and, as usual, made a noise about anyone blocking their focus. As Dravid settled into his seat, a flood of still-photographers invaded the front section, crammed into the aisle and frantically began their clicking.

What all this meant was that Dravid's answers were constantly interrupted by angry noises from the back, with one set of cameramen pretty much telling the other set to buzz off. Dravid waited for the commotion to cease but things just got worse, so bad that a senior journalist, completely enraged, took it upon himself to stand up and hush up all concerned. That turned out to be the last straw: Dravid had had enough of the farce and he stomped off in quite a rage.

The tragic part about this whole episode is that nobody was surprised. The Delhi District Cricket Association (DDCA) can take a lot of pride in the spruced up stadium but it's incidents such as these that will rankle. Sense finally prevailed. Dravid returned, unveiled the trophy along with Andrew Flintoff, smiled for a zillion photographs, sat down for the second part of the press conference, smiled again for another short session of shooting, and, only when all the still-photographers had left the scene and cleared the path for their TV counterparts, did he entertain questions.

All parties were finally satisfied and Dravid, as if to make up for his walk-out, patiently answered questions for close to seventeen minutes. "There may be something for the bowlers," he said, while comparing the pitch to the one used for the game against Pakistan around a year back. "That one was fresh and it was the first game on it. Even when we played in the Test against Sri Lanka, there was a bit in it for the seamers." He reiterated that India's fielding in the Mumbai Test was a "serious concern" and hoped the one-day side wouldn't slip up on that front.

The absence of Supersubs, he felt, wouldn't make too much of a difference as the rule "mainly supported teams that won the toss". Would being appointed captain till the 2007 World Cup make a difference? "Not at all. It's the same irrespective of whether you captain for a day or a year. I've never thought about it, it doesn't affect my decision making."

Dravid spoke about the threat that England posed, especially with "impact players like Flintoff and Pietersen", and he felt it could all come down to who holds their nerve in the crucial stages. The more interesting question to be asked, though, is how calm both captains would remain in the post-match press conference tomorrow. Don't forget your cameras. It promises to be a right royal scrap.

Siddhartha Vaidyanathan is staff writer of Cricinfo

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Players/Officials: Rahul Dravid
Series/Tournaments: England tour of India
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