A sordid relationship
- From: "prakmel" <prakmel2005@xxxxxxxxx>
- Date: 11 Jan 2006 01:00:05 -0800
What was billed as media interaction day with the Indian cricket team
instead became a fiasco of a press conference punctuated by awkward
silences and media inaction. As the players stared with increasingly
incredulity, the vast majority of the print media kept their heads
down, or stared at the high walls, showing their displeasure at the
management decision to turn private tête-à-têtes into a
Those who had prepared over 50 questions the previous night - around
three per player - were in for a rude shock when they reached the
banquet hall at the Pearl Continental in the morning. Instead of round
tables where a couple of players and four or five journalist could seat
themselves and have questions answered, there were 16 chairs set in a
row for the team, with seats laid out for the media as they would be at
a routine press conference. When it was mentioned to GS Walia, the
media manager, that this was not how media interaction sessions were
carried out, he expressed the view that this was how the team, and
especially the captain, wanted it. His view was echoed by Raj Singh
Dungarpur, the team manager, though a team source later told Cricinfo
that neither Rahul Dravid nor his team had any idea about the change in
With animated discussions producing absolutely no compromise, the media
interaction that was a press conference in all but name started with
players gazing expectantly at a group of disinterested faces. With
pindrop silence reigning, a couple of journalists broke rank and
started asking questions, oblivious to the hostility from their
colleagues. Each question would be followed by an eerie silence that
spoke volumes, and we were finally left with the laughable sight of a
journalist asking players like Wasim Jaffer and RP Singh if they had
anything to volunteer.
You felt for the players, who looked bemused to be part of such a
charade. By the time it ended over half an hour later, with more pauses
than questions, everyone had lost out. Journalists who had sat up late
into the night compiling a bank of questions to be used at various
stages over the tour, were left with nothing, the fringe players who
might otherwise have had a piece or thirty written about them at some
stage were denied that chance, and most importantly, the readers were
deprived of a little more insight behind the scenes of a tour that
holds more interest than perhaps any other.
Given that players are loathe to be disturbed with one-on-one interview
requests in the middle of a series, media interaction day assumes
paramount importance. It went off without a hitch on both of
Australia's recent tours of India - for the TVS Cup in 2003 and the
Test series in 2004 - and was organised beautifully by Amrit Mathur,
the media manager, and Prof. Ratnakar Shetty, the manager, at Multan on
India's last tour here. Why such an arrangement - surely not in the
realms of rocket science - couldn't be ensured here is something for
the media manager to explain.
There was some innuendo that such a decision was the result of the team
management's reluctance to front up to questions about Sourav Ganguly's
participation, or not, in the Lahore Test. But instead of firefighting,
the new arrangement merely fanned the flames, and both Dravid and
Ganguly had to field extremely awkward questions about the composition
of the team. The tension writ across each man's face showed exactly why
the Ostrich-head-in-sand approach had failed miserably.
Another source within the team reckoned that the decision to do away
with one-on-ones had been taken by players who had signed exclusive
media deals before the series. If that was the case, it was as pathetic
as it was sad. The same players, when out in the cold, can be found
calling up journalists begging for a sympathetic hearing. If they
subsequently find no joy, such attitudes have much to do with it.
People often mention how harsh the Indian media can be on its players,
especially when compared to its Australian counterpart. But the players
who wear baggy green, with an exception or two, treat their journalists
as equals, as professionals doing another job. Respect is a two-way
street, and until the Indian team's media management imbibes some of
the on-field professionalism, the relationship between player and
scribe appears destined to be characterised by a disconnect and
distrust that serves neither party.
This thinktank seems to be getting from bad to worse.
Some relevant quotes:
1. "What was billed as media interaction day with the Indian cricket
team instead became a fiasco of a press conference punctuated by
awkward silences and media inaction."
If we have a fiasco for the squad selection for T3 vs SL and a fiasco
before T1 vs Pak, it sure is a damning characterisation for the men at
And awkward silences? Amazing situation before the first test of the
2. "When it was mentioned to GS Walia, the media manager, that this was
not how media interaction sessions were carried out, he expressed the
view that this was how the team, and especially the captain, wanted it.
His view was echoed by Raj Singh Dungarpur, the team manager, though a
team source later told Cricinfo that neither Rahul Dravid nor his team
had any idea about the change in plan."
Who exactly is in charge? Seems like everybody is trying to wash their
hands clean even before the tour has really started.
"And this is how the captain wanted it." Had to read it twice to make
sure my eyes were not deceiving me. Wonder if this is really true or is
he a fall guy.
And Rahul walked out from another ceremony. Can his mind really be on
3. "You felt for the players, who looked bemused to be part of such a
A charade? Have the players been told to act? If so, why oh why?
4. "There was some innuendo that such a decision was the result of the
team management's reluctance to front up to questions about Sourav
Ganguly's participation, or not, in the Lahore Test."
Now that is a surprise. It would appear that the people at the top know
that even they cannot cook up any conceivable excuse this time to
exclude Sourav. So they have seemingly decided to pretend total
It is probably correct they don't have a clue - about the team
composition, how to run media conferences, how to be honest etc. Wonder
what they have a clue about.
5. "The tension writ across each man's face showed exactly why the
Ostrich-head-in-sand approach had failed miserably."
The Ostrich-head-in-sand approach had failed miserably. Very true.
But does the thinktank have the brains to realise it.
Regionalism was bad enough when it existed (presuming it doesn't now)
but it really is a disgrace when we have supposed grown people in the
thinktank acting so immaturely.
Just wonder how long before this amazingly poor PR performance will
really blow up.
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