Gautam Gambhir, redux

Harsha comes to the topic a bit late — likely a function of weekly deadlines. Sometimes, events happen immediately after you’ve dashed off one column, and then you are constrained to wait a week before you can take it up in your next [one reason why I believe Harsha needs to have a blog of his own, but that is a conversation we’ve been having for years].

All that said, his take on the ‘reprimand’ is worth your while.

And it strikes me as particularly baffling that players seem to get away with abuse on a field, with insulting language, but cannot make an honest observation off it. It has wider implications. I fear it could only lead to more boring, vanilla statements of the sort we now get at press conferences. The audience, who are the real owners of a sport, want to know what a sportsman is thinking, they want his assessment, and they have a right to that knowledge. Otherwise we will get what passes for cricketer-written columns in our newspapers: bland, insipid and flat statements that do not tell us why the owner of the byline is an exceptional performer, do not allow us a little window into his mind. Gambhir allowed us that and was told to stand in a corner.

12 thoughts on “Gautam Gambhir, redux

  1. Like some body said very aptly about the elephant memory, i think Modi would wait for his chance to pounce, may be when Gambhir is out of form. Or he is just plain busy counting his billions to care 🙂


  2. I know people in the media and the audience would love our cricketers to be honest/candid/frank? But is it really in the interest of the player to be so? Our mainstream media misconstrued his statements to indicate that gauti called the Rajastan side ordinary which was not so. After Sehwag called Bangladesh ordinary and they bowled India out for 200 odd in the first inning; our so called experts really went after him. If Rajastan beat Delhi in the next match watch out how the media will portray it as revenge; it is just fodder for the media when a player is candid he does not gain much; I disagree with that in India if you are honest you are building your brand. Which cricketer is the biggest brand? Sachin has he ever been candid…he is diplomacy personified. Has Sachin ever spoken openly about the controversies he was involved in? the Harbhajan Symonds incident, match fixing? his relations with Azhar when he was captain? And the added danger of making a fool out of yourself when such a statement backfires? our media would have had a gala time at Sehwag’s expense if Bangladesh had won the test? people still mock tony grieg about his grovel statement?

    • Ruchik, the thing is, if you make a statement that is idiotic, it is for you to pay the price. But that possibility should not therefore be an obstacle in the way of plain speaking for everybody. Similarly, if I am less than honest for fear my statement will be misconstrued by the media, what am I left with then? What I can, and should, do, is be as open and honest as possible — obviously even there, you will have limitations. Leave it out there — if the media misconstrues, the public will correct. As for instance happened in the case of Gauti, where sections of the media said he had called RR ordinary, but the public, on blogs, on twitter and elsewhere, called the media down on it.

  3. Well, dont give Lalit ideas about there being commercial value in such scathing comments on opposition or he will turn this into WWF-style or Boxing style pre-match conferences where the captains go through a rehearsed “I will make you grovel” routine.

  4. Oh yeah, Gautam took on the monster. But I fear Lalit will strike back when Gautam has a low moment. Elephants never forget, eh?

    Am I a minority of one or did I see Gilchrist cynically pushing down Rayudu? Not a yip in any MSM. I thought, in the position he was in, Kill-Crist could have easily avoided pushing Rayudu down. There was some sort of condescension in his eyes, I thought.

    And Shane Warne takes so much tiem in field changes and bowling changes, yet he hasnt exceeded the time limit even once? Is anyone actually tracking this? I refuse to believe that Rajasthan bowled all their overs within the time limit in all their matches. And did anyone calculate the time wasted by Dada before fining Sangakarra for not bowling the overs within time?
    I think these things are going unquestioned int he MSM. Except for the dada incident, I dont remember any newspaper or Cri(oo)kinfo mentioning these. Obviously, they’ll report Dada with relish.

  5. I am surprised with Harsha’s honesty. I have seen that over time he has become more and more of a establishment man and BCCI lackey (just like his fellow commentators Shastri and SMG). In fact, while he has gained some hair, he has lost some of his integrity (some kind of Dorian Gray bargain :)). I hope these remarks are a sign of regaining some of that lost honesty and integrity.


    • From all the years of knowing him, selling out his integrity is one thing I’d never think to accuse Harsha of. Sometimes, we conflate. For instance, IPL commentary is by definition hyperbolic. Some take it to extremes — think Siva, Shastri. The others tend to find some kind of middle ground, between being shrill and being sober. Harsha I think is trying to find his voice in this format — you’ll likely see him being more himself once this circus is over and we get back to international cricket.

      • sometimes I wonder if being shrill is being loathed because more people are doing it these days. I positively remember enjoying Bill Lawry’s or Tony Grieg’s hyperbole on Channel 9. This despite having heard people like Benaud and later even Border and Taylor.

        The Brits used to be dull and boring compared to the Aussie commentators – ruling out the usual exceptions. 🙂

        But today, we find a Shastri nauseating when he shouts at the top of his voice on every six that is hit. Siva, who started off fairly well, has become the butt of all jokes and Sidhu, Arun Lal, etc are all completing the joker set.

        • More people being shrill is raising the SNR significantly, yes. For instance, a Tony would have been light relief amidst the serious stuff, but today there is only “light relief”, no quality commentary, so the public jibs. Also, even at their most hyperbolic, Bill and Tony and the like made sense at times. This lot is just noise, no sense, and there is a limit to how much of that you can stomach.

      • And also Harsha has always maintained in all his interviews I have read in which he is not the interviewer that while on T.V, he is not the expert. So he does not really voices his own opinions while he is with an expert. He reserves his opinion for his newspaper and other print columns, as he has very well done in this case. And I am really happy that in this IPL commentary brouhaha, there is somebody who has got his own opinion and is ready to voice it when opportunity presents itself.

  6. Agree with thrust of his remarks, but as always, am uncomfortable with statements like “The audience, who are the real owners of a sport…” and “…they have a right to that knowledge.”

    When sport is treated as “public property”, it just ends up becoming an unresponsive politician or bureaucrat’s property. As it is in all other sports in India.

    And statements like “right to that knowledge” are just as populist as right to employment or right to education. Sure, nobody can take it from the consumer, but nobody has an obligation to provide it to you either.

    As we had discussed earlier on Twitter, allowing such comments could make the IPL more interesting and thus makes sound business sense. That is the argument I buy.

    • I’m with you on this. That said, the problem is with the sweeping nature of the statements. There is a middle ground between opening up all information to the public [including, presumably, bookies and other unseen stakeholders], and giving them pre-digested pap, and I suspect that is the middle ground Harsha too would like to see.

      I’d like to see more people talk like Gautam, for two reasons. One is what you mention. The other, and it is kind of related to your point, is that in brand building, there is increasingly a definite downside to treating the public like idiots, and feeding them pap. So I guess it is not really two reasons, but an elaboration on the point you make.

      What for me has been most significant about this incident is the dog that refused to bark. Modi has an ego the size of that alleged blimp, but strangely, when Gautam directly took him on, not a yip. Makes me wonder why; makes me wonder if there is a realization that you can put yourself over and above the game, push players just so far, before it boomerangs on you. I hope so, anyway.

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