Tuesday, May 09, 2006

Being Viru, being quiet.

Virender Sehwag. Over 4000 ODI runs and 3700 test runs. India's vice-captain. He also seems the target of an accusation of being the captain of India's most famous vice:- talking too much. He's been asked to shut up now by the BCCI for saying(on air, which is why it's worse) Ganguly still has something in him and could make a comeback and the team still missed Ganguly.

I know what you're thinking:- "Aww!!" (And maybe even "Somebody has a crush on Sourav!!") Exactly! It's a very nice thing to say on the part of Viru. The man who brought him into the team and encouraged him is having a tough time, playing 'lowly' first-class matches and being busily ignored by the selectors. He felt like quoting Walt Whitman(revisited), maybe. "O (former) Captain! My (former) captain!" cried Viru's heart. And his mouth could do naught but obey! Blurt out it did what he felt. And the Board came down swiftly on him. This is what BCCI secretary Niranjan Shah had to say on the matter:-

"Players cannot speak on Ganguly issue. It is a matter which concerns the selection committee. As a player you cannot give your opinion on any other player."

Wow! And I'd have thought a player would be the most qualified person to comment on another player. Apparently not. Here's something else a player cannot do:- get tired of too much cricket. The Board frowns on that too.

"If any player feels there is burnout, he can take rest. The Board cannot change its policy or itinerary for any player." (sic!)

Funny. I thought the Board was here to manage players' routines and regulate matches and tournaments so players could give their best and be at their fittest. No, no, that would be too selfish.

(For your reading pleasure(?), here's a bit about Ganguly. Oh, you want more? Here's a bit more about him.)

Anyhow, the Board is being a bit too tyrannical, coming down hard on Viru like that. Players should be allowed to speak their mind about cricketing decisions, policies and other players, for these are all factors that will affect them directly. And there should be no fear of 'retribution' or 'payback' of any sort. This, after all, was not a stinging criticism of anything BCCI but only an opinion about another player. And a good opinion, at that. The problem the Board had was that it was a player they had all collectively ousted, after much stink(mostly raised in Bengal by the cricketing bhadralok there!).

Player criticism of the Board has traditionally not been well received in India. Unlike Australia, where barbs are flung at each other by player-and-coach and players-and-board with no bad reactions from either side, here, there is ill-will borne by both sides. Sunil Gavaskar comes to mind when this is said. Gavaskar has never been diplomatic or contained in his criticism of the Board or the selectors, on occasion calling the latter 'a bunch of jokers.' Many believe this was why the Board 'got back' at Gavaskar even when he was a player and is perhaps the cause for Rohan Gavaskar not being given a second chance while lesser players are being persisted with.

That apart, the Board cannot and should not be an Orwellian overlord of what players say. Especially when it comes to a legitimately concerning issue such as player burnout or whimsical Board policies. Everyone knows how Javagal Srinath was overbowled and overworked and this perhaps forced him into early retirement. Everyone also knows how the erratic selection-dropping-selection-seven-year-later of Robin Singh effectively ruined his career. These are issues that deserve to spoken about. Not just in drawing rooms and on popular media by common people and experts like Mahesh Bhatt but also in Board meetings and by players. These issues affect them very closely and they will naturally want to have a say. As long as the comments do not transgress the bounds of sanity or decency, no player comment should be crushed underfoot(for personal reasons or whatever).

Having said that, let's see what the Board's side is too. It's an organization, a corporate structure. The players are employees managed by that superstructure. No organization would brook its employees running off and making statements at will, without consulting them first. This brings about the image that there is, perhaps, not too great a unity within the organization. For it to function as a well-knit unit, the organization must have this unity. More importantly perhaps, it must maintain a facade of unity. No chinks in the armour, no schisms, no rifts ought to exist or be seen. Players should remain on the side of the Board which gave them all they have.

Ultimately, the Board should learn to be more tolerant of players' comments and general criticism. Being so touchy and sensitive about everything and clamping down mouths serves no purpose but to make it look autocratic. The very image of a tight unit it was trying to maintain might end up, pardon my French, jump up and bite it in the ass.


Niranjan Shah said...

Oh i see, i will look into these issues.

Finch, Scout said...

I thought the header would read "Being Viru, Viru quiet".

Do you realize that as a nation, we're so damn touchy about so many things, that we're stuck being politically correct?

Today, Viru will say Ganguly's being missed. A few days later, you'll read popular newspapers reporting nepotism of some sort.

It's freaky how our opinions, personal statements are under scanners!

Guru said...

"cricketing bhadralok" - he he, chennagide usage.

Arjun Sharma said...

[niranjan shah] Hmm.

[finch] Yeah, the scanners are out prettty much every moment of our lives. "Watch it!!" seems to be what they're trying to imbibe in us. In a frightening future, everyone'll be saying only nice things about everyone else. Not out of a desire to do so, but compulsion. O how I dramatize!

[guru] You were right about the bhadralok.

Karthik D said...

A good point u make there. The board has taken away one of the fundamentals rights from its players.
Viru said a couple of good things about a player on TV and he was pulled up. Wonder what would have happened if he had said something like "Sachin is girly".
But, there have been protests regarding the saurav issue in Kolkata which might be triggered again due to such comments by a current player. Quite a valid reason to plaster Viru's mouth.