This article is from Cricbuzz.
By Boria Majumdar
A terse media release from the media manager of the Indian team, Dr. Baba this morning reads, "Dear all, there was a misunderstanding and no abusive language was used. Virat has spoken to the concerned gentlemen immediately and matter ends."
Noticeable are two things. First, Dr. Baba claims, "no abusive language was used." Having spoken to every journalist present at the location, abusive language was indeed used. And if not, why is he issuing a media release if Virat was just having a plain conversation? Does a conversation between a player and a journalist necessitate a media release?
Second, "Virat has spoken to the gentleman and the matter ends."
Indeed it should end and there is no need to blow such a thing out of proportion, especially when India is playing well and is in the middle of a World Cup campaign. Having said that, a few things need to be stated in unequivocal terms.
First, it is totally unwarranted from India's future captain to get into a confrontation with a journalist for a story, which is now a few months old. Virat may have his reasons to feel peeved for violation of his privacy but nothing justifies a public outburst in the manner that was done. For such a thing just doesn't help Virat or Indian cricket in any way. All it does is take the focus away for a brief period and shows Virat in a manner he'd not be happy with.
That Virat mistook the journalist for someone else draws attention to a larger issue- the complete breakdown in relationship between the media and the Indian cricket team. So much so that the vice-captain does not know the journalists by face. Frankly, such a thing would never have happened a few years back. Now with players barred from saying hello to the touring media and vice-versa, there is just no camaraderie between these two constituents. That the media is an extension of the team and is also doing a job is perhaps lost on the media manager.
Coming back to Virat - he is on the cusp of greatness. Batting superbly for India, he has everything going for him. And as skipper, he was just sublime in the Test series scoring 4 hundreds on Australian soil. So much so that legends like Mohinder Amarnath have gone on record suggesting that Virat should have been made captain in this World Cup itself.
"It is in his interest and also that of Indian cricket that India's future skipper does not court unnecessary controversy."
In such circumstances when his taking over the reins of the team is just a matter of time, Virat needs to show far more restraint under provocation. He is not the first celebrity who is facing this sort of intrusion. Michael Clarke faced serious media interference when he broke up with Lara Bingle. So much so he left midway into a tour failing to cope with pressure. Even now there is a lot of talk about him and Kyly Clarke. David Warner and Candice Falzon are also much spoken about. To take it a step further, David and Victoria Beckham are always on the lips of people in the UK.
It is intrinsic to being a top celebrity and all that Virat needs to do is ignore such stories. It is in his interest and also that of Indian cricket that India's future skipper does not court unnecessary controversy.
Finally, it is a reminder to the new dispensation in the BCCI that something needs to be done urgently regarding player-media relations. Synergy is the way forward and one can only hope that Dalmiya and Thakur will look at this aspect with urgency. One of the major flaws of the past regime was that they allowed things to drift a bit too far. Hence the appointment of media managers like Dr. Baba who haven't lived up to the expectations of the touring media. Rather than being helpful, he has always tried to stall player-media interaction and the Virat incident is a culmination of this process.
For the sake of Virat and that of Indian cricket the matter indeed needs closure. There is no point in dragging it further. But all the same, lessons need to be learnt to avoid a repetition in future for it can only hurt Virat and Indian cricket in the long run.