India Drown Under. Surrender Down Under. Wallopped! Tigers at home, lambs abroad.
The adjectives are tripping off TV screens and sports pages, following the precipitous fall in Team India’s performance in Australia, where the 0-3 scoreline looks less from a cricket series, more from a tennis match.
The blame, as usual, is being laid at the door of the IPL and the surfeit of Twenty20 cricket. The cricket board is being slammed for ignoring domestic cricket, for short sighted selection, etc.
But how much of the blame does the media carry?
Calcutta-born Andy O’ Brien, a former journalist with Sportsworld magazine, now happily settled in Australia, on the debacle of Mahendra Singh Dhoni and his World Cup winning boys, in The Telegraph, Calcutta:
“If one was to compile international media clippings of this tour, mention of Sachin Tendulkar‘s milestone would probably outnumber 10:1 any analysis of the outcome of a Test match or the shortcomings of the Indian team….
“Are Indian cricket fans more interested in Sachin getting his century of centuries or in winning a Test series? Or is the truth that this almost cosmetic overemphasis on the peripheral is a coincidental cover-up of the fact that, by and large, Indian cricket reporters tend to be too soft on their cricketers?
“Not many are willing to bite the proverbial bullet and risk their “contacts” with the team or the hierarchy. If always seemed to me, even when I was a part of this wonderful hardworking group of people, that the business is not so much about writing or cricket, but what contacts you have and can tap, to produce a “cosmetic/glamour” story with banner headlines.
“That trend has grown and as a result many reports now deal with either the mundane or the inconsequential part of the game.”
Photograph: Australian captain Michael Clarke tosses the coin at the start of the third Test match against India in Perth, as captain Mahendra Singh Dhoni looks on, with match referee Ranjan Madugalle (right) and Channel 9 host, Mark Nicholas.
Read the full article: Let go of that cockiness and arrogance
Also read: ‘Today’s cricket journos are chamchas of cricketers’
Somewhat disheartening if true, but by and large people know what they are looking for in newspaper reports. Sachin’s 100th century, for instance , will be savoured for the exceptional grit required by an Indian to get there. The reporter or columnist could also be leading by following the pulse of what the Nawab of Pataudi called the country’s foremost “spectator sport”. But aren’t connections universally critical ? Australians proverbially put the accent on their team winning first, but isn’t their glow over Bradman’s record quite permanent ? One can imagine an irreverent journalist being given short shrift by his sources. It is of course another matter if some people are using he landmark as a red herring for India’s performance. .