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India block information highway

It's difficult to get even basic information from team, writes Atreyo Mukhopadhyay.

india Updated: Jun 25, 2006 01:47 IST

The Indian cricket board is on an overdrive to instil professionalism in everything it’s about, but there are few signs of professional behaviour in the National team’s methods of dealing with the media.

Forget a media manager whose job would be to issue updates on the team’s activities it has been difficult to get even basic information from the team on this tour.

For example, nobody was available to confirm whether Virender Sehwag had indeed been fined by the match referee in the first Test over 24 hours after the incident; no one had a clue when the team was going to practice after four days of rest before the third Test; and no one ever cared to explain how teams were being selected. It is certainly not necessary for the team to hand to the media the minutes of team meetings, but even answers to elementary questions like whether someone was dropped on form or due to a fitness problem are impossible to come by.

For instance, there was no answer to why Pathan and Harbhajan were not included in the XI in the first Test. It was a simple matter of saying that the two didn’t fit in the scheme of things for the match, but the team manager messed it up by saying that they were rested.

Things got worse for the third Test, with the team shutting down almost all channels of communication. Though not mandatory, the custom is that someone from the team turns up for a post-day media session. The West Indians make it a point to have a media session with their player of the day - or Brian Lara himself. He has turned up for such media interactions at least 15 times in the series, but his Indian counterpart has remained elusive. It was particularly bad on Day 1 of the third Test: Wasim Jaffer did turn up, but he had no answer to questions like why Pathan was not in the XI.

The team, of course, is not bound to pass on to the media every details of its strategy. The point here is that there can be non-controversial answers to why a player has been chosen ahead of someone else, and this team is not ready to accept this simple fact.

It surely wouldn't have been a huge blow to the team's morale had the captain, coach or one of the two selectors present here come forward and said that a player has been left out because the team thinks it has better options. By keeping such simple things under veil, this team is probably paving the way for speculative journalism, which is unfortunate.

The team does have a manager, but he has little knowledge of what is happening - his stock answer is "I don't know". Since the Indian board is basically all about bucks, the buck - as they say - must finally stop with it. In turning into a 'cash elephant' from a 'cash cow', it has plenty.