The braying medicrity of Indian cricket — its media — has provided M. S. Dhoni with his due honeymoon period. After the washed-out first ODI against Australia the braying mediocrity of Indian cricket (BMIC) didn’t get stuck into him for “experimenting” by Irfan Pathan to bat at #3 against Australia. They didn’t jump up and down and scream “dischord in the camp” when Sourav Ganguly chewed his nails pensively when Australia were batting in the first ODI. They didn’t wonder if Dhoni’s head was on the chopping block when Rahul Dravid scratched his privates during a dull passage in play. They did not analyse the angle of Sachin Tendulkar’s head-tilt to suggest his disapproval of Dhoni’s field placements when Michael Clarke hit a glorious four whipped off his legs.
So far, Dhoni is enjoying his honeymoon period. But all it will take is one loss. The press will hunt as a pack and wonder why Ganguly chewed his nails, why Dravid scratched his privates at a crucial passage in play, why the “experimentation” with Irfan Pathan’s slot in the batting order and why Sachin Tendulkar’s head-tilt was only 12 degrees, when 15 degrees is a bare minimum acceptable tilt and 23.85 degrees is optimal!
The banality and the crudeness will descend once again on Indian cricket. Up until then, the only pedestrian and trite behaviour we fans would need to contend with would be that which the BCCI dishes out. After all, nothing — not even resounding Indian victories — can stop the BCCI pressing on relentlessly with their hackneyed existence.
The BMIC collective continues to dazzle me with newer ways and means of demonstrating their utter facileness. In the words of Prem Panicker, another writer on Indian cricket that I admire:
Why is newsmongering becoming such an obsession? Why must a journalist stretch the lines of reality, twist facts to fit preconceived ideas and create sensation where none exists, all in the name of news? Why must a public figure always be at the beck and call of the press, and be assumed a culprit if he decides to spend some time away from the limelight?
Let’s take as an example, this wonderful (not!) piece belted out by a certain S. S. Shreekumar in The New Indian Express (Wednesday September 26 2007).
Although the article appeared nearly a week ago, I did not want to comment on it immediately beacuse I may have crossed the line of decency on a public forum had I commented on it back then. I then found out that Prem Panicker had already lamented eloquently about this particular article on his blog. Do check it out as I am not going to necessarily repeat what Prem Panicker has already said.
The main headline of this article reads “Dravid b Dhoni St Tendulkar!” and the article sub-heading is “Dravid’s mute pat; Sachin’s broad hint”.
The main thrust of this article is a hypothesis that the writer has (presumably) postulated that roughly reads “Rahul Dravid is not convinved of Dhoni’s captaincy credentials”. And how does the author set about proving this ill-construed and mal-informed hypothesis? Through badly-constructed argument, a total absence of data, a complete lack of veracity, honour or truthfulness, and, what’s more, through utter and callous fabrications.
This is a good example of what I have been referring to BMIC for some time now.
And for good measure, the author makes it clear in the article that this tinted-glasses outlook on Rahul Dravid stems from a bitterness that emanates from the fact that Rahul Dravid refused to provide interviews to all and sundry in the press upon submitting his resignation!
Can someone so bitter and twisted be allowed to wield the pen? Isn’t it the Editors’ duty to weed his paper of such evil?
The principle thrust (ok, I use that term loosely) of the article is that, while Ganguly and Tendulkar had been effusive in their comments on Dhoni’s captaincy immediately after the T20 victory, Dravid’s reaction has been belated and muted! So, Dravid clearly (but of course!) does not like Dhoni! QED!
For the record, the T20 final was played out on September 24th 2007 and for the record, this is what have the trio of ex-captains had said about Dhoni’s captaincy?
Ganguly, on 22 September: “He looks relaxed and he has made the right decisions under pressure which is important.”
Tendulkar, on 24 September: “Indian cricket in safe hands now.”
Dravid, on 25 September: “Congratulations to Dhoni and his team. They played fantastic cricket throughout and certainly deserved to win the tournament.” (a fuller quote with much more fulsome and effusive praise is also available here)
In other words, Ganguly commented before the T20 final, Tendulkar commented immediately after the T20 finals and Dravid commented a day later.
The author, whose piece appeared on September 26th, obviously rated Dravid as being slow off the blocks and less effusive in his praise of Dhoni than the other two ex-captains and then proceeded to build his excruciatingly thin argument around this observation.
Firstly, I did not necessarily see Dravid’s comment as being less effusive when compared with what the other two said. Secondly, commenting the day after a win does not change my world. And finally, who the gluck cares?
The author then moves on to fabricate a growing tension between Dravid and Tendulkar! Oh yes! The plot thickens!
The article starts off by quoting Tendulkar as saying, “Indian cricket is now in safer hands.”
Note the use of “safer”! Obviously (to the author) this means Tendulkar did not think highly of Dravid’s captaincy! Surely, there are tensions in the dressing room which must then lead to either Tendulkar or Dravid being dropped! But of course.
There is only one major problem with this “logic”.
It is entirely based on a lie and a fabrication.
Tendulkar actually said, “Indian cricket is in safe hands”!
Is this mis-reporting a lie, a fabrication, a deep offence, an affront, a transgression, a misdemeanour or a gross misrepresentation? Chose your pick!
Either way, if I were in this reporters shoes, either my resignation would have been on my editors’ table or a termination-of-employment notice would have been sighted on my table! The fact that neither of these happened just goes to depict the shallowness of the system.
Dravid talked about a “sense of proportion”. I am afraid to say that that “proportion” will continue to be absent in Indian cricket writing as long as we continue to have callous, conniving, deceitful writers like Sreekumar and as long as editors continue to operate happily in a responsibility-free and ethics-free zone.