As arbiters of good taste — and postponing decisions — we had planned to take our own sweet time to tell you whether Rahul Dravid did the right thing by not making England follow on in the Oval Test. But now it seems the media, not to be always confused with us, has come in the way of us keeping a dignified silence. And which poor soul did they use to get us talking? Zaheer Khan. Some bright spark had thrust a mike into his face asking him whether he was tired after bowling against the English in the first innings.
Now, Zaks old chap could have given one of the three following replies: one, “I’m not going to answer that you scheming scumbag!”, or two, “Of course I was tired, considering that I didn’t get a wicket in the second,” or three, “I don’t think I was tired or anything.” As you know, Zaheer opted for the third answer — and out comes this creature called Controversy. Now, with the deft critical apparatus at their disposal, the media finds Zaheer to have spoken out against his captain’s decision to not let England follow on and bat again. The Indian camp is upset — at the media more than at Zaheer, who stands guilty of naivete — for allowing a cock’n’bull story of India’s best paceman playing Mangal Pandey to Rahul Dravid’s sepoy captain.
So what is the moral of this sad story? Never let the media sucker you into answering a leading question? Yes. You’re damned if you impose a follow-on, you’re damned if you don’t impose a follow-on? Yes, that too.