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What do you do when nothing?s on?

News is something that does not always happen, it has to be created as well, writes Pradeep Magazine.

india Updated: Jan 19, 2006 12:18 IST

It is yet another day of clouds, rain and no cricket. You open your eyes and your first instinct is to look out of the window and see what it’s like outside. It is dark and cloudy and raining as well.

The thought of what you will write if there’s no play leaves you kind of worried. News is something that does not always happen, it has to be created as well, and that is a problem. The prospect of trying to find meaning in everything in the world around — even something as innocuous as someone of some importance moving his head — can make you suspect that something of terrible importance could be happening.

You dress in the almost eerie silence and step into the corridor and the first thing that gets your attention is the commotion on the floor where the team is staying. Thrilled at your luck at having struck gold, you rush with great hope to the spot where a few cops are attending to someone. Could it be a player?

The excitement of having stumbled onto something really newsworthy does not last long. A man dressed in salwar kameez is being helped to his feet. He appears groggy and walks with an unsteady gait while being escorted to the lift. He is one of the many cops who guards the team floor. Lack of sleep and exhaustion has probably taken its toll.

Despite the rain, the Lahore traffic is jam-packed. And once at the ground, bored journalists and anxious officials are all huddled up in groups.

Still, no news.

A familiar face with a bat saying "Best wishes to Rahul Dravid and his team from the city of Sourav Ganguly" catches the attention of everyone. At last, news!

The man is India's famous footballer Chunni Goswami. He finally hands the bat over to Dravid with lots of fanfare. Photographers rush to click the moment for posterity. Everyone smiles, so does Dravid. This is possibly news but how much can one write on this? The search starts afresh.

About 100 metres from the Gadaffi Stadium is Pakistan's showpiece — the National Cricket Academy. A visit holds the promise of getting something worthwhile. It is a neatly laid out place, with excellent facilities for cricket and indoor nets as good as anywhere in the world.

But it is almost a ghost town. Wasim Jaffer is spotted, having some practice at the nets with RP Singh being the bowler. Suddenly, you also spot Sarfaraz Nawaz, the maverick former Pakistani fast bowler, re-igniting hopes of some news.

Wherever Sarfaraz is, controversy cannot be far behind. And sure enough, the man who invented reverse swing holds court. For him, everyone is a "fixer" and matches continue to be fixed.

"Take the England-Pakistan last one-dayer. It was fixed and Pakistani players took money." He goes on, "Juaris (gamblers) run Pakistani and Indian cricket."

From fixing fixation to Greg Chappell, Sarfaraz moves easily from one topic to another. "When are you sacking this man?" Why? "Arrey, he is playing politics. He has turned this Ganguly issue into politics and he has no business doing that. You better get rid of the man before it is too late."

Sarfaraz is a purveyor of sensationalism but no one takes his tirades seriously. Not any more. He is a man who would lead you to believe that even the weather here was fixed! His imagination has no boundaries and one day, he could even suggest that the real reason for the team huddle is something as simple as this: The players are actually distributing money and passing on tips from the bookies! Any takers?

The gaze shifts from Sarfaraz to Younis Khan, who limps out of one of the buildings in the academy and moves towards the stadium. The limp is not the legacy of a hard outfield but something called volleyball that teams play to relax after the match.

Like Sehwag, he too fell while playing volleyball on the third evening of the match. As he walks into the stadium, the scene is same as it was in the morning: Bored journalists and anxious officials waiting for the umpires to call it a day.

First Published: Jan 18, 2006 00:54 IST