If there was anything more distressing than the nature of the explosion in Trent Bridge, it was the inevitability of it all. Virender Sehwag (and to a lesser extent Zaheer Khan) have had significant questions surrounding their fitness since India reached England for the World T20. Zaheer recovered quickly, played, and that was sorted.
But what of Sehwag? The media wanted answers, Mahendra Singh Dhoni pointed to the Board of Control for Cricket in India, and none was forthcoming. Dhoni has been different from his predecessors in that he believes it is essentially unnecessary to have even a working relationship with the media. In a country where ignominious tournament exits result in players’ housesbeing tarred and their cars stoned, this was a high-risk strategy at the best of times. Perhaps that’s why the team came out in an elaborate show of unity to “Indian fans” just days ago.
The new dispensation of the board also believes that the media are a hindrance, rather than an interested and involved stakeholder. Their official communications are sporadic and bare, leaving the media with no choice but to tap into sources, either within the board itself or among players and both can be unreliable at times.
The board and the players blame the media for irresponsible reporting, the media blames the board for being secretive. To an extent both are to blame. But two wrongs seldom make a right.
The real question to be asked, in all this, is over Sehwag’s role. At a press conference, Gary Kirsten, the coach, made it clear that Sehwag had a Grade-1 tear and that he had sustained his injury during the IPL. That being the case, Sehwag should have made full disclosure about the extent of discomfort or pain he was suffering.
Had he done this, the logical next step would have been a fitness test, perhaps a scan, and we would have been saved all this drama. No medical specialist, no captain, no cricket board can say just how much a player is hurting. Sehwag’s eagerness to play is understandable and if he was fit, the team would want him to play just as much. But he wasn’t fit, and didn’t say so soon enough. Perhaps this was what caused whatever it was that was perceived as a “rift.” Sadly the board, with its lack of transparency, is hardly in a position to pull up Sehwag.