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The drill

Press conferences on tour quickly fall into all-too-predictable patterns

Younis Khan speaks during a press conference, Lord's, May 31, 2009
Have Pakistan been affected by not playing in the IPL? You tell me © Associated Press

I often lose track of what day and date it is on tour; knowing which teams are practising where, and who is playing whom is information enough. The routine day is spent at matches, practice sessions, in press boxes and at press conferences.

Attending a press conference, whether pre-match or post, is part of the daily grind. Most are unexciting, but a few in this tournament, and not just India's, have been insightful. India's press conferences are generally packed and you usually get only one opportunity to ask a question. It's different for other teams. The West Indies presser ahead of their group match against Sri Lanka, for instance, was attended only by three journalists. Here's a collection of topics about which questions get asked most often.

1. The IPL. Someone never fails to ask about its benefits, or the consequences of missing it. Are India/Sri Lanka/South Africa/New Zealand doing well because their players gained unprecedented experience in South Africa? Are Australia/England/ Pakistan/Bangladesh paying the price for not taking part? Didn't Owais Shah and Paul Collingwood eavesdrop on team secrets while on the Delhi Daredevils bench?

2. Spin. Are you surprised that slow bowlers are doing so well in the Twenty20 format in England? Do teams with two spinners have an upper hand over teams with none? How do you plan to counter the Murali-Mendis threat?

I hope Sri Lanka play Farveez Maharoof at some point in this tournament. If they do, their bowling attack will read Malinga, Mathews, Maharoof, Mendis and Murali.

3. Gayle. Ever since he mauled Australia, opposing captains and bowlers have been asked whether they were quaking in their boots at the prospect of containing Chris Gayle? Do you have a plan against him? Will you open with spin against him? Will you pray that Gayle does not play?

4. Favourites and minnows. India, South Africa and now Sri Lanka get asked how they handle the pressure of being favourites, and all teams get asked about whether they are wary of a potential upset against a minnow. Both questions usually receive the same platitude. "We're always looking to play to the best of our potential, irrespective of being favourites, irrespective of the opponents, etc…"

5. If it's an India press conference there's inevitably a question about Virender Sehwag. About his injury, about his operation, whether he has been operated on or not, if he's still staying at the team's hotel, whether he's on the same floor as MS Dhoni; and whether he plans to visit the Sachin Tendulkar wax statue at Madame Tussaud's. Okay I made the last one up.

6. Kumar Sangakkara always gets asked about Lahore, the war in Sri Lanka, and whether the protests in England are affecting his team in any way. He has never wavered in his stance, always saying that his players are attempting to control only what they can, and staying focused on playing cricket. And haven't Sri Lanka been simply delightful so far.

George Binoy is a senior sub-editor at Cricinfo

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