Cricket writers cannot use their power to settle personal scores

Posted: July 15, 2012 by The CouchExpert in Cricket, Opinion
Tags: , , , , , ,

Goutham Chakravarthi

Earlier today, Suresh Menon’s  article appeared in Wisden India with the heading ‘Tendulkar’s interests not same as India’s‘. This is not about my view on Tendulkar’s retirement or any retirement for that matter (of which I have already shared my view). This is more about the very headline of the article. While what much of the article around Suresh Menon’s well documented opinion of how Tendulkar’s career is now controlled by his commercial interests, I felt this time, it went from being just his opinion to a verdict or judgment of sorts – that he claims Tendulkar put his interests ahead of the India’s seemed not a mere inference of sequence of events or a likelihood. Menon was certain. He wrote, “clearly Tendulkar’s interests are no longer the same as the country’s, certainly not in one-day internationals.”

The sequence of events leading up to this article is fishy.

A sequence of events surrounding this article and coming from Wisden India now has got me thinking if there might have been an ulterior motive to him writing what he did. Read me out.

First, let’s start with Wisden India itself. Bloomsbury announced late last year their foray into India through Wisden India. This year they have now become fully functional. With an ambition ‘to be a single consolidated voice of Cricket, and to be known as the ‘Home of Indian Cricket.”, they seemed serious (It is a competitive market with Wisden India facing stiff competition from ESPNCricinfo and Yahoo! Cricket) and they roped in big names including the likes of Dileep Premachandran as Editor-in-Chief and Suresh Menon as Editor Cricketers’ Almanack.

So when almost exactly a month ago, Wisden India awarded Tendulkar with the Wisden India Outstanding Achievement award it seemed a good way market itself in the process. It was also announced that Wisden India would hold five more such dinner events involving Sachin Tendulkar over a period of three years. It was apparent that Wisden India had invested themselves in brand Tendulkar.

So when Tendulkar pulled out of the one-day series against Sri Lanka citing he needed to spend more time with his family, predictably, media space was abuzz if he ought to be able to pick and choose the series he plays in. Following the pull out, Wisden India’s when Editor-in-Chief Dileep Premachandran decided to write that selectors ought to be the ones that decided who should be picked and who shouldn’t. Here’s where things got a little fishy. At least, to me.

Surprisingly, the article appeared in the UAE based The National and not in Wisden India. Of course Dileep Premachandran contributes to The National and also The Sunday Guardian. But an article on Tendulkar and selection didn’t warrant a feature on the site that aspires to be known as the ‘Home of Indian Cricket.’

Perhaps the investors on the Tendulkar brand for three years didn’t want to jeopardize by carrying a story that seemed to sort of accept that it may not have been a wise investment. Or that it might jeopardize relationship with the player himself. Whatever it was, it appeared as though the investors got their way.

But it didn’t escape the fact that the article did appear on UAE based The National. Did it mean Wisden India would refrain from carrying out any ant-Tendulkar stories for another three years?

No, apparently not. At least from this article earlier today. Whether it means Wisden India do not want to be seen to be favouring a certain player, or if it was a case of a decorated and high-profile writer wanting to show that he couldn’t care less for his employer or their investment and would get his own back  against the both of them are all possibilities.

In any case, opinions are points-of-view based on facts and inferences. Like Suresh Menon disagreeing with Sanjay Manjrekar’s opinion that Dravid was not talented for example. Or his example that Dravid and Boycott were examples of  constructive and destructive selfishness respectively. Infering from shrewd observation like how the investment industry is linked with Tendulkar is what alalysts like Suresh Menon or Mike Atherton are very good at.

But to be certain of Tendulkar’s interest not in line with his country’s seems beyond a mere opinion. More a judgement of character. And it cannot be pinned on a player just because it appears the whole cricketing commerce revolves around him. And it sits uneasily on me more to do with the sequence of events leading up to this article.

While we want our writers to be unbiased and critique for what is best for the game, we wouldn’t want them to influence us with views that may be intended just to prove a point. Cricket is struggling enough to fight corruption, maladministration, and player agents and con men influencing player selection.

We don’t want the small circle of our best and honest writers use their power to fight their personal battles.

  1. Gautham,

    It is still Suresh Menon’s opinion. In what I can infer from the write up, if a 42 year old Tendulkar is not going to figure in the selectors’ plans for WC 2015, it is only fair that he at least retire from ODIs so that someone else is given a run, long enough to earn a berth to that WC squad.

    It is interesting that Premchandran’s article on the National had already echoed everything that Menon had to say here, which begs the question, why regurgitate the same plot lines, however valid they might be?

    I do not know whether Menon is trying to settle any personal scores because I am not aware of any reasons why he would do that. So, I’ll just see it as his opinion, based on facts.

    So what is Tendulkar’s interest? What is the nation’s interest? who dictates what the nation’s interests are? The selectors? If so, as Dileep mentioned in the article, they ought to act on this rather than expect Tendulkar to do what is “right”. If Tendulkar continues to not retire from ODIs and keeps himself in contention for selection, for whatever personal interests of his, it is fine by me. That’s his job. It’s the selectors that need to do their job, which is to have a vision for the 2015 WC and if Tendulkar is not gonna be playing it, then let him know of it and not select him for any ODIs, if he chooses to not retire from that format.

  2. Thala, how about conflict-of-interest? I don’t intend to be politically correct here. But if your editor-in-chief has to publish his opinion elsewhere at least I am concerned how much you toe the line of your employer. And coming from Suresh Menon post that in the manner that it has (yes, the commercial angle and ‘who will tell Tendulkar’ being well established by the same man already), with the heading they gave it tells me some one somewhere is pissed.

    At least, I cannot see my editor putting out that article if I had written it instead of Suresh Menon. He’d ask for more conclusive evidence.

  3. Abhishek says:

    Other writers should not use their powers to settle their scores with cricket writers. 😛

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