Clayton Murzello: BCCI's ludicrous stay away policy

Jun 14, 2018, 07:02 IST | Clayton Murzello

The annual awards should be viewed as a celebration of Indian cricket and not letting the media even close to the event room is shameful

Clayton Murzello: BCCI's ludicrous stay away policy
India captain Virat Kohli, who claimed two awards in Bengaluru on Tuesday. Pic/AFP

Clayton MurzelloThe Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) has not come out smelling of roses by deeming it unnecessary to invite the media for the BCCI awards that took place on Tuesday night in Bengaluru.

For the local and travelling media that landed in Bengaluru to cover today's historic India vs Afghanistan Test match at the Chinnaswamy Stadium, the awards were out of bounds.

If the BCCI (run by the Committee of Administrators, a CEO, an acting president, secretary and treasurer) didn't want the media in the same hall where the awards were being presented, they didn't feel it was important to make arrangements for the media to avail of a live feed near the room of action.

Mind you, these awards were more significant because it encompassed the 2016-17 and 2017-18 seasons. A transcript of Kevin Pietersen's MAK Pataudi Memorial Lecture posted on the Board's website was all the media got on the night of the awards.

What the BCCI do and how they treat the media (although one must admit that there is an improvement in terms of team-related information) should not have an impact on the writing. But, it does sometimes. Generally speaking, an unhappy travelling media group will somehow pull out their knives when they get an opportunity. I happened to interview head coach Ravi Shastri on the Indian team's return from South Africa earlier this year. "Sometimes you feel in your country, people are happy when you lose," he told me. You won't need a genius to discover that much, if not all his angst, was directed at the media.

Shastri's quote raised eyebrows and if what he said was indeed true, then both parties need to do some reconciling. The media gunning for the team and vice-versa will never be good for the game.

After the unpleasant exchange between captain Virat Kohli and the media after India lost the series at Centurion, the team may have felt the media didn't give them the credit they deserved for winning the third and final Test at the Wanderers in January. Some Indian journalists felt the umpires should have called off play when the Johannesburg wicket was proving to be ultra-dangerous for the South African batsmen.

Their view drew some opposition with the argument that no one said a word when the Indian batsmen were battling hard and batted exceptionally on the same pitch.

There is a need for balance. The cricket writers should view things more positively and understand that, at the end of the day, it's a damn tough sport and things aren't as simple as they seem. Also, a ring of conspiracy cannot be attached to every decision the Indian think-tank takes. On the other hand, the BCCI/team must realise that the media have a job to do. No, they do not need to be appeased, but the players need to acknowledge that the members of the fourth estate, too, make occasional errors of judgment and theirs is a pressure job, too.

Many a time, the media experience high-handedness and are blocked even if there is full realisation that a player won't grant them interviews in between an important series.

A colleague of mine remembered the other day how the media were not even allowed to be on the road of the team hotel during the 2015 World Cup in Australia and New Zealand, and if journalists went to the coffee shop of the hotel for a refreshment, they were asked to leave. Reason: Instructions from the Indian team management. The media manager on that tour was viewed more as a watch dog than a facilitator of information. Thankfully, he is not around the BCCI set-up any longer.

The Team vs Media battle could well continue on the tours to England and Australia. India has a fine chance of clinching a rare series win in England and their maiden Test series win Down Under in 71 years. To be practical, which team wouldn't do with some good press? But, if both sides decide to lock horns like two punch-happy boxers, then the outcome will be only bad blood.

Back to the awards. The BCCI announced the rechristening of a few awards and attached the name of their late president Jagmohan Dalmiya to them. So the final list read four awards each in the name of Dalmiya and MA Chidambaram, another departed BCCI chief.

Here, too, it seems logic has been sent for a toss. Where is the sense of having multiple awards in the names of Dalmiya and Chidambaram? There is no award named after Raj Singh Dungarpur, the man who was instrumental in setting India on the road to better overseas success. Nor is there one in the name of M Chinnaswamy. Pietersen's lecture dwelled on the promotion of Test cricket, but there are a few pointers, which apply to the game in general as well.

I'm not sure whether the BCCI officials understand that the media ultimately relays information to the public. Probably, the BCCI needs a separate lecture to get educated on the importance of the media.

mid-day's group sports editor Clayton Murzello is a purist with an open stance. He tweets @ClaytonMurzello Send your feedback to mailbag@mid-day.com

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