As I walked in to office this morning, a young lady reporter on one of the TV news channels was doing a ‘spot report’ as part of the channel’s preview of the game, later today, between India and Australia at Mohali.
She seemed very taken with the notion of ‘psychological advantage’, to the point where in course of a typically breathless one minute monologue she repeated it thrice. The track has some grass on it apparently and Mohali ‘traditionally’ supports pace and bounce, but India has the ‘psychological advantage’. Gautam Gambhir and Virender Sehwag are doubtful starters and India will miss them, not simply because of their experience and ability but because of the ‘psychological advantage’.
TV anchor: Gambhir and Sehwag are doubtful starters, and that could be a big blow for India as it seeks to build on the psychological advantage of having a 2-1 lead.
Reporter: Yes, Gambhir and Sehwag are doubtful, and that is a blow not just because of the experience they bring to the side but also because India wants to maintain its psychological advantage.
TV anchor: Yes, India has a 2-1 lead but the injuries to Sehwag and Gambhir are crucial as they could cost India the psychological advantage.
And so it went, back and forth…
THAT was a bit of a wrong-‘un that the Australian cricket team sent down to the media in India this week. You can read about it in coach Tim Nielsen’s blog on the Cricket Australia website. ”The boys tried to have a bit of fun with the media day,” he writes. ”As I’m sure you can imagine with so many interviews you tend to get asked the same question over and over and we had a bit of a competition running to see who could work the most sporting cliches into one answer.”
There’s also the one about their ”concern for the image of the game” and a ”need to give something back”. Something, but nothing that was truly meant, not anything from the heart. The message from Australia’s cricketers to their supporters is simple: don’t take anything we say seriously, because we don’t.
…”Walking out from the press conference with Rick [Ponting], we left about 70 cameras and another 150 journalists, which I find amazing every time we are exposed to it,” writes Nielsen. ”Although when you consider how many people are over here in India that follow the sport. I suppose it’s fair enough.”
But not so fair enough, evidently, as to dignify questions with anything other than the pretence of considered and worthwhile answers. Not so fair enough not to put on a charade. Whatever Australia was up to that day, it just wasn’t cricket. Ho, ho, titter, titter, slap thighs.
Far from feeling shame about this tawdry exercise, Australia’s cricketers boasted about it, via their coach’s blog.
The offending paragraph has since been deleted from Tim Nielsen’s blog, Baum tells us.
Whether such behaviour is apt for a team that is increasingly so enamored of the riches of Indian cricket that when its stars are not making money in our proliferating leagues, it has plans to play India home or away every year for the conceivable future is a question for the Australian captain, its media, and its board to consider.
Hopefully, we won’t now witness a paroxysm of righteous indignation from our own media people – the fault, dear Brutus, lies with us.
Amit Varma is fond of telling this story dating back to when he was covering India’s tour of Pakistan. Virender Sehwag appeared before the media, and almost immediately confronted this question: ‘Aapke is century aur pichle century main kya farak tha?’ Sehwag being who he is, responded with the straightest of faces: ‘Bas kuch thees run ka farak tha’.
That’s the kind of inanity that characterizes our ‘press conferences’. The point should be clear: if the touring Aussies are treating our media with contempt, it is because we deserve it — if we insist on asking the most inane of questions, we shouldn’t be surprised if we get canned, cliché-ridden answers.The irony is, these responses are then carried verbatim, with breathless commentary on television and/or hyperbole in print.
The surprising aspect of this affair is not the Australians gamed us – it is that we didn’t know we were being gamed, and that is as eloquent a comment on the state of the cricket media as any.