The cookie cutter

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?

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9 thoughts on “The cookie cutter

  1. Pingback: Home-Based Marketers Need an Effective Plan

  2. “Just because the people who are reportedly upset with something I’ve said about a cricketing performance are starry doesn’t mean I take it all back. I said what I said and I stand by it.”
    “More pertinently, I can’t be expected to get all worked up about comments made by people who have never picked up a cricket bat in their lives.”
    I love this guy.

  3. Well Prem, if these press conferences are so boring, why don’t the journos not go to them? If everyone knows the quote that is going to come out, why wait and get tortured ? This is not something specific to cricket as well. Almost every sport I can think of (with the exception of boxing, WWE) has the same issue. For example – You would have heard the Chelsea manager & players talking about Man utd being a good team even though Wayne Rooney is missing. I could pretty much copy-paste the content you have given and use it here in the football context. Players are taught from the beginning that anything out of the ordinary is taken out of context by the press and twisted around as being arrogant. Hence – it is always a safe bet to stick to the standard responses. At the end of the day, results matter. Talking does not.

  4. @Abhishek: I have now gotten to the stage when somebody is not batting or bowling, I flip channels. Anyway Sony would not show cricket at other times; I may as well watch what I want. I have managed to watch entire movies this way!

    So, there is no chance of me watching the pre/ post match ‘banter’. I get my jollies elsewhere (Goundamani-senthil or Vadivel are classy compared to this bunch)

    Soon, I envisage a time when I can cut to the chase and only watch the last 2 overs of each innings.

  5. Even the cricket that is being played out there in the ground is pretty meaningless as an assortment of international and domestic cricketers – who float around freely, this year representing Mumbai, next year Hyderabad and the year after Punjab take another motley of cricketers amid a din of advertisements all over them.

  6. Now you will see Modi asking for the services of Azharuddin as a post match presentation interview groomer 🙂 …………of course Azhar will pay a cool million to get that right!

  7. Our cricketers are expected by the administration to be “politically correct”. So every now and then, when a Virendra Sehwag or a Gautam Gambhir say something honestly, a lot of people express their disapproval.
    On another note, I find absolutely nothing to look forward to in the pre and post game programming of the IPL matches. Do you ?

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