Pop quiz, hot shot. It's a press conference. There's only one issue on the journalists' mind. What do you do? What do you do?
If you're MS Dhoni, you sit mutely, gagged by your own board. If you're George Bailey, you don't say much, but you say enough. You even throw in a few jokes.
Australia's post-match press conference on Wednesday was much like India's pre-Champions Trophy departure presser in Mumbai. Before the press conference at Hyatt in Mumbai, India's media manager Dr RN Baba requested the media not to ask any questions on the spot-fixing saga. Before the post-match presser, Australia media manager Kate Hutchinson asked the press not to bring up the David Warner bar brawl issue
A dose of wit
Now, if there are any certainties in life, other than death and taxes, it’s that the media will always ask the difficult questions — it's what they are paid to do.
In Dhoni's case, he sat mutely and was shielded by the media manager. Even in his first press conference after arriving here he sidestepped the issue, while showing signs of losing his customary cool. “If I haven't answered the Indian media, there's no reason why I should answer you,” he retorted, when an Englishman asked him about the scandal.
Bailey, who would have picked up some of Dhoni's usual press conference charm while playing for the Chennai Super Kings, wasn't as blunt. He even managed to get the crowd to chuckle, what with his witty remarks. Sample: Asked if Warner should still be with the squad (on Wednesday he was given the responsibility of carrying drinks), he said, “I think he (David Warner) took it on the chin and he's had a cheer around the group, so it was outstanding. No pun intended. Sorry about that.” Took it on the chin? Did Joe Root hear that?
Despite the warning from the media manager, the first question was on the Warner issue. The first question was on how the incident affected them, especially since it occurred hours before the match. Bailey retorted, “Well, it didn't. It happened days before.”
Bailey 1. Journalist 0.
The next question, logically, was when he first heard about the incident. “A few days ago, but it's been dealt with from my point of view. It's disappointing, but a very minor incident and it's been dealt with in-house and that's it,” said Bailey. Imagine now if Dhoni had said the same thing, wouldn't it put to ease the fear of the fans. It's a minor incident and has been dealt with in-house. That's all Dhoni had to say.
He was asked about Warner and what sort of a teammate he is. Now, he gave a very politically correct answer but the point is he was at least talking.
“I really enjoy playing cricket with him. I love playing cricket with him. I love his enthusiasm and his energy around the group. I love the way he plays. You know, I wish I had the talent that he does, and I think he's a particularly generous teammate, very giving. I'm looking forward to hopefully playing a lot more cricket with him in whatever career I have.”
And for the difficult questions, he had a ready reply. Asked if Warner has a short fuse, he said, “not at all.”
For someone in only his second year of international cricket, he showed maturity beyond his limited experience. How we all wished Dhoni had done the same. Or is he still waiting for the right time?