Most cricketers, when they find themselves having to talk to journos and face press conferences, learn to master platitudes and banalities.
That is Amit Varma. Sid Vaidhyanathan in his letter to me the other day expressed similar sentiments. They are the rule, not the exception — any journalist who has covered cricket will tell you of the incredible boredom that is part of the ‘press conference’, and the difficulty of taking the most antiseptic utterances and crafting a story that won’t put you to sleep on the instant. [I gave up the struggle a long time ago — since 1998, I haven’t attended a single press conference, either by players or by the administration].
So why do even otherwise intelligent players speak in platitudes? Here’s why:
At the presentation, Gambhir had said, “I think Rajasthan was never a threat. Except for Yusuf Pathan, the other guys were pretty ordinary. We thought Yusuf was the only danger-man and didn’t bother too much about anyone else.”
Gambhir was reported by IPL Chairman Lalit Modi and admitted to the charge after receiving details of the report.
Arrogant? Perhaps. But harmless, surely? At press conferences, in pre-match ‘interviews’ and elsewhere, journalists routinely ask players/captains what they think of the opposition, who the danger players are, and what plans they have made. “How do you plan to tackle Sachin Tendulkar?”, goes the question. And more times than not, what you get is, “Sachin is the greatest player in the world, he is capable of winning a game on his own, we have obviously made our plans, not just for him but for the others as well because any player can win the game on his day blah blah…”
Gambhir was merely answering that question honestly: we think the only player in the RR lineup capable of taking the game away from us is Yusuf Pathan. But that was enough to earn him a reprimand — because his off-handed honesty is contrary to the antiseptic prose that the cricket establishment mandates for its prisoners players. And of an IPL Code of Conduct so exhaustive, it will take an entire season to read through and assimilate it.
Here though is the kicker: Gambhir is “reported” by none other than the IPL commissioner Lalit Modi himself. Makes sense — you can’t have players devaluing, in whole or part, a product he is busy pimping marketing to anyone with a spare buck in his pocket, can you now?