Indian team barred from speaking to the media


Taking the Indian media for granted has reached new heights as far as the Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) is concerned. If the gag on the players during the course of a series wasn’t enough, the players have now been barred from speaking to the media even during the three- day national camp that concluded at the National Cricket Academy (NCA) in Bangalore on Monday.

The relationship between the BCCI and the media hasn’t always been this bad. Even till recently — when Anil Kumble was the captain of the national team — the team manager would accompany a player to the media for interaction at the end of training.

And if media personnel knew players personally, they could get in touch and take interviews. The interview obviously had to be controversy- free.

But with Mahendra Singh Dhoni’s appointment as captain, the relationship has all but gone downhill. And if Dhoni’s declaration during the 2011 ICC World Cup in India — that he spoke to the media only because it was under ICC’s guidelines — wasn’t bad enough, the players have now been asked to refrain from speaking to the media not only during the tournament, but also during training camps. Also, every time a player has to speak to the media, he needs to take permission from the BCCI — especially a newcomer.

Even as the Indian team had a three- day camp at the NCA to prepare for the upcoming Australian series, the management did not provide any player to speak to the media in attendance, and even those contacted over the phone, refused to talk citing BCCI’s diktat.

“I am really sorry, but there has been strict instructions from the Board, making it clear that we aren’t allowed to speak to the media any time during the course of the training camp or after that leading up to the Test series. Maybe we could do an interview once the series is over,” a player told MAIL TODAY . A player has supposedly been issued a show-cause notice by the Board for giving an interview to a newspaper during the Test series between India and England.

While the Indian players are already stars in their own rights, the worst hit have been the bowlers who were shortlisted and sent to regional academies in Mumbai, Chennai and Mohali for advanced training — after the BCCI conducted trials for fast bowlers across the country — last year. The best bowlers were asked to bowl at the Indian batsmen during the preparatory camp.

There can be no doubt that someone from among those bowlers could have a story that could actually interest readers.

But thanks to BCCI’s strange policy, they need to be content with only bowling at stars like Sachin Tendulkar, Virender Sehwag, Virat Kohli and Cheteshwar Pujara among others.

Speaking to media isn’t always that bad a thing and while there have been cases where the media has used figments of their imagination to make a mountain out of a molehill, they can often be the very medium through which the fans, who worship cricketers like demi- gods, can be told what goes inside a players’ mind — be it when he is at the top of his game or when he is going through a tough phase.

Speaking to MAIL TODAY , a former player said that he always preferred speaking to the media as that would nullify chances of the media cooking up stories on the basis of lack of information.

“During my playing days, I would always ensure that I spoke to the media rather than the media spreading news about me. But then, I must say that the number of media personnel covering matches have also increased and that might sometimes turn out to be a cause of concern for the current crop,” he said.

Whatever be the reason, it is definitely not in the interest of the game. After all, a pen will always be mightier than a sword.

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