Lost puppies, mad scientists and Garfield
It takes all kinds to make a cricket press conference
Press conferences can be fun. In the IPL you get to see a whole lot of international players turn up for them over a short period. Some want to be there only if they win; some sulk if they lose; some are plain uninterested in being there, win or lose; some like being there; and some wonder why they are there.
Yuvraj Singh clearly isn't interested in facing boring journalists. He's quite a sight at these events. He saunters in, plonks himself down on the chair, scratches his chin, tilts his head, first one way then the other, looks into the far distance as if he has spotted a mermaid, and mumbles his answers. He's like Garfield the Cat.
MS Dhoni usually starts with a wisecrack. He likes to keep the mood lighthearted, but when asked serious questions he will point out specific problems - the bowlers should have done this but they didn't, our batsmen screwed up - without ever sounding as if he is moaning. It's a statement of fact, no blame game.
Gautam Gambhir fires his answers as if he has learned them by heart. It takes you back to your school days, when you had to read out passages in class. Gambhir answers properly and frankly. He is the sincere schoolboy.
Brendon McCullum has looked like a lost puppy, Tom Moody like a teacher. John Buchanan has come across as a scientist who is losing his memory. He can either ramble along or be short and terse; or come to the room and say, as he did once: "Let me ask you a question first. How did you think we went today?" The journalists have been getting after him of late. They seem to be tired of this smooth-talking super coach.
Shane Warne likes to talk. Matthew Hayden talks likes he plays: he sledges the opposition, even at the press conferences. Virender Sehwag speaks like he bats: to the point, fast, and usually with a sense of humour.
Most cricketers give the impression they would rather be elsewhere than at a press conference. Who wouldn't, when you see the journalists we have these days? Some are like me, who think they're asking intelligent questions but are usually spouting junk not worth a detailed answer. Some like to ask long questions; I hope one day some cricketer asks, "Can you repeat the question, please?" Some are too earnest in their queries, some too flippant; some seem to be passing verdicts than asking questions, and some are looking for controversies. Some don't like to ask questions - they are above these "petty conferences" - and some are thinking about where they'll go to drink at the end of it all.
Some don't know their subject well. Like me. I interviewed S Badrinath, and as the interview ended, asked him, "So, marriage on the cards?"
"Er, I have been married for a long time now."
Sriram Veera is a staff writer at Cricinfo