The twists, turns and twirls of cricket

I don’t remember Rahul Dravid¬†having to clarify a comment made by him during his 16-year international career including the phase when he was captain of India from 2005 to 2007. But he had to clear the air recently when he felt that his comments on a website (ESPNCricinfo) were taken out of context by some sections of the media.

Dravid’s general comments in a separate interview about the importance of an establishment’s credibility were used in a chat show involving the website’s editor-in-chief Sambit Bal and former batting star Sanjay Manjrekar. And the media concluded that Dravid was referring to the Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI). Misinterpretation should have no defence, but all this only proves how careful people should be while making even the most well-meaning of comments. Sometimes, the use of disclaimers -- in this case probably - ‘Dravid’s views don’t point to any particular establishment’ is necessary because we live in an age where the media can put practitioners of the twist dance to shame.

The former captain had some reason to be annoyed to read the headlines after a part of his extensive interview to ESPNCricinfo appeared in public domain. After all, he has played for India Cements, a firm associated with BCCI biggie N Srinivasan, who is credited for promoting his firm’s cricketing activities much before the birth of the Indian Premier League.

The Dravid incident reminded me of what happened to former India all-rounder Robin Singh after the 1999 World Cup in England. Fourteen years on, I still cannot comprehend as to why Robin, who rarely interacted with the media ever since he made his famous comeback in 1996, decided to air his views after that World Cup. In fact, when I interviewed him by the poolside of the Taj Samudra during the 1998 Singer-Akai Nidahas Trophy in Colombo, he told me that no one had interviewed him before.

Robin is indeed a man of few words, but that night in July 1999 at the Khar Gymkhana, he spoke from the heart as to why India were hot and cold in the World Cup. He also spoke about how the players were kept in the dark about the points system. “As players, we were not aware of the format until the first game was over. We were not given the rules. When it came to the rules about the points being carried forward to the Super Sixes, we had different versions.

Everybody was contradicting each other... but forget the format, if you want to win the World Cup, you have to beat the strong teams... Australia did that.”

Some newspapers reported that Robin blamed the team management which he actually hadn’t, but certain BCCI officials were enraged. Since
I had recorded Robin’s utterances, I informed the then BCCI secretary JY Lele that he ought to listen to the tape. I also heard that the selectors were being instructed to drop Robin for the forthcoming tri-series in Sri Lanka. I sent two tapes through national selector Anil Deshpande to be played out in the selection meeting at Lele’s hometown Baroda if needed, but Robin got picked anyway in the squad for Sri Lanka under new captain Sachin Tendulkar.
I happened to be sent by this newspaper for the tour, and as I was opening the door of my room in Colombo, I get a tap on my shoulder. It was a smiling Robin. He had made it, despite everything.

From Day One of the spot fixing controversy, Dravid has said all the right things and that includes his conversations with the Delhi police. He continues to say what the public wants to hear in these dark days. This is also part of contributing to the game. Dravid must take a bow. 

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