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The truth behind the press box Prankenstein

Reporter Ajay Naidu’s mock press release wasn’t funny, but it never said Dravid was ‘retiring’, reports Rohit Mahajan.

cricket Updated: Dec 12, 2007 02:24 IST
Rohit Mahajan

It could have been lifted straight from a piece of fiction. Actually, with changed names and circumstances, the episode could have been part of The Joke, an early masterpiece by Milan Kundera.

A freelance journalist, a known gadfly who's stung most in the press box at some point of time, decided that it was time to be funny. Tearing out a sheet from a colleague's diary, he scribbled a note and passed it on to the scorer in the press box.

Minutes later, the gentlemen (and ladies) of the fourth estate were stunned when the scorer, reading from the note, announced: “There will be no one from the Indian and Pakistan teams in the press conference. But Rahul Dravid wishes to speak to the media.” Words to this effect.

There was sensation, there was wild conjecture. Why would Dravid wish to “speak” to the media? He had no role to play in the day's play, so what did he wish to say? Could it be that, just as he had forsaken captaincy when least expected, he was going to end his Test career?

But within minutes, Ajai Naidu was identified as the offender, everyone knew it was a misplaced attempt at humour.
A day later, on Monday, the joke turned sour — the BCCI circulated a press note, announcing a ban on him.

Curiously, the BCCI release, detailing the charges, said that the announcement was: “Rahul Dravid had called a press conference to announce his retirement from Tests.”

That's clearly untrue as anyone in the press box would testify, and this puts a different spin on the issue.

Naidu, who apologised for his “prank” in the press box on Monday, says he's become a victim of Board politics.