Over the weekend and Monday, the Indian cricket board brass reportedly made a few quiet calls to some of their India stars. They told them to avoid speaking to the media and lie low.
“We’re not reprimanding you, so why should you bother defending yourself in a trial by the electronic media,” one was told. Meanwhile, on TV channels and websites, in blogposts and to a certain extent, in print; by smug ex-cricketers (the holier-than-thou expression of some former cricketers who smile smugly as they rip into current players really needs to be banned), hysterical anchors and the so-called ‘hurt cricket fan’ at large, India’s cricketers continue to be viciously vilified.
And the BCCI has maintained a studious silence. So here’s my question of the hour, day, week or whatever. If they aren’t allowed to speak for themselves and there’s no official spokesperson for them, who’s going to speak for India’s cricketers?
Ashish Nehra, who’s only folly really, seemed to be to react when young Ravindra Jadeja was being abused by American Indian fans in St. Lucia, was not allowed to enter his house and see his wife and baby on his return till he spoke to the media mob outside his house.
Jadeja, reportedly, is thoroughly depressed. He had a really bad tournament yes, but the fact that he made the team ahead of others (including the 280-odd cricketers who played first-class cricket in India last year) also points to the fact that he’s had some really good days too. So spare him a thought: Despite his being an India cricketer, he’s barely 21 years old. Plus, there’s the fact that most cricketers have little formal education and next to no social skills because they spend all their time on cricket.
Hence, they are ill-prepared to face a world that makes them demigods one day and devils the next. Incidentally, about the big deal being made about the players being at Tequila Joe’s, the local St. Lucia club for a drink — frankly, even if they did, so what? They were out of the tournament and leaving for India the next day.
Why should they have been expected to sit and mope or hide away in their rooms and not act like regular young men who had a crappy day and just wanted some time out with friends? Why should all of India react like Bollywood of old, when any man who had a drink in a film was a villain while any woman who wore spaghetti straps was a tramp? Even if they’re young men who make truck-loads of money, they’re allowed their down-time. They messed up in the Caribbean and that needs to be seriously examined in cricketing terms, but more often than not, especially in the last two years, the Indian team has given us much joy and lots to be proud of. We need to remember that.
Here’s what one India batsman said after the team got back from the Windies. “The World Cup’s seven months down the line and this has all (the over-the-top reaction) been quite scary. I’m going to send my family away during the Cup, because, God forbid we lose, someone might try and burn my house down.” And if that happens, Indian cricket will never be the same again.