The difference between good journalism and …
…pure shit is a thin one. Consider two articles that came out recently regarding the action of Sri Lankan bowler Suraj Randiv in their last ODI match against India.
Bit of the background: India needed one to win with plenty of overs to go, Sehwag was on 99, threshold of a well-deserved century. Randiv bowls a no-ball that galli-cricket players would be ashamed of, India has won and Sehwag doesn’t get the century even though he hit the ball for a six!
Sehwag being Sehwag, dispenses with any diplomatic niceties in the post-match questioning and asserts that Randiv did this on purpose. As you can imagine, this incident unleashes a stupid shit-storm in the Indian media which completely over-reacts (wait! where have I heard that one before?). Even more surprisingly, though Randiv admitted his lack of sportsmanship and apologized personally to Sehwag, he was banned for a match by the Sri Lankan board!
Well, that was pretty much the gist of Sambit Bal’s (someone I often do not agree with) article in Cricinfo concerning the incident, with the perfect summation of the situation:
The bowler apologised, the batsman accepted; where do the rest of us come in?
OTOH, Anand Vasu, former Cricinfo editor, tries to make the same point in Hindustan Times but with far less conviction. Firstly, he tries to make some bizarre analogy with breaking law in real life (speeding, drunk driving etc) and breaking law in cricket! This doesn’t really hold, since Randiv did not break any laws (a better comparison may have been holding the lift door open for someone and not being an ass and pressing ‘Close Door’, yes you know who you are).
He also appeals with an anecdote from Chandu Borde showing gamesmanship has always existed:
Chandu Borde, who played at a time when cricket happened at a much gentler pace, recounted his experience. “When Gary Sobers was batting against us on 199, we ran him out by bringing in the field. We could have allowed him to make a double ton but we did not,” said Borde. “The lines between fair and unfair play have blurred.”
Really? Since when is running out, or dismissing a batsman unfair play? Don’t all teams like to put pressure on batsmen when they’re at 99/199/299 etc ? This wasn’t a question of trying to dismiss Sehwag, there wasn’t even a whiff for SL to win the match. The action, without doubt, was classless (but again, not worthy of so much controversy). A similar Indian action would have been to deny Murali his 800th wicket in the test match earlier this year (or if Pakistan had denied Kumble the 10-fer during that famous match).
But the ultimate zinger is this:
Closer home and specific to the latest controversy, Ajay Jadeja has a practical view. “Sehwag would have done the same thing if he was bowling,” says Jadeja. “This is very common in cricket.”
Oh yes, Jadeja – the guy who took money to lose for his team. Good to know he’s a mind-reader too. In the same vein, let me declare that even Ricky-the-ball-touched-the-ground-but-I-will-still-claim-a-catch-Ponting wouldn’t have resorted to this type of gamesmanship in a similar situation. Makes as much of logical sense.
Even more amusing is how Vasu tries to claim a badge of honor for upsetting Indian cricket fans. Newsflash: just tweet ‘Bradman was much better than Tendulkar could or will ever be’. Watch the fun. Doesn’t take much to upset Indian cricket fans (I know, I’ve been guilty too).