Mountains, molehills

It seems to be the season for interviews — and here’s another very good one, by Osman Samiuddin with Younis Khan. Harsha had in his own polite fashion hinted at the problems the media creates for teams. Younis is less diplomatic more pointed:

Before, when we lost a match, everyone used to say, “The match was fixed, the players sold out.” Now when we lose, everyone says players have had a fight. But what I want to know is, fight over what? Obviously if players don’t perform always, they use these things as crutches, these excuses.

I have seen one thing in my country, one amazing thing, especially in the media. Often one thing is said and thrown into the press like an arrow, like “the team is unhappy” or something. The captain then responds to it by saying, “No, no, everything is okay, we are happy.” Then everyone assumes that everything must be wrong if he is saying that. Sometimes I don’t respond to it. If someone has thrown that arrow, let him.

This time, during the World Cup, for example. I’ve always played and captained with a smile on my face. After the England loss, I spoke to the media about how it was a “fun” format. How the media grilled me over that! Don’t you think Twenty20 is just that? A fun format? Everyone says it, just in a different way, but today everyone is concerned about promoting Twenty20 too much. What will happen after five years in this format, with so much money at stake? There are dangers there. Nobody wants to play two days anymore, just a few overs. But the response I got to saying this was so negative.

After that match, I changed totally. I was silent, not smiling so much and I didn’t even smile when we won. I felt then that I needed to get a bit tight and stop all this smiling. Then when I did that, people started saying, “Look, the captain is not mixing with the players, something must be wrong, he must have fought with them.”

Did Imran not do this? People didn’t accept it because I was totally changed. I used to chirp and smile and when I changed people thought I had fought. Even now I don’t chill out too much because I’ve seen that if you get too close and too pally with the boys, then you lose a bit of authority. Now the same people are telling me to become pally with the boys again. I don’t want people to get involved in these issues and invade my privacy.

So that is what captaincy does: it teaches you to stop smiling, to take joy in what you do for a living.