To say there is great chemistry between Virat Kohli and Ravi Shastri would be stating the obvious. The star captain gets a break from hectic cricket and will not be travelling to Sri Lanka for the tri-series. Yet, in his last press conference in South Africa, Kohli had spoken strongly about how he views the media.
Back home, after the team landed, coach Shastri also spoke on similar lines, with one quote from an interview to a Mumbai tabloid catching the eye. “Sometimes you feel in your country (India), people are happy when you lose,” said Shastri. It’s interesting how the skipper and coach are on the same page while viewing the media too.
Like on most other matters, Kohli and Shastri seem to have similar views on the media too.
Kohli was angry with the journos and in his last press conference in South Africa said he was not going to fall for the bait when asked on his sublime batting form. His view is that the media and fans lambast him when the team does badly and then sing paeans when he scores heavily or the team shines.
To be sure, the performance of the Indian team in three formats in South Africa was praiseworthy. Agreed, the team lost the first two Tests and then bounced back with vengeance in the third Test. That set the tone for the remainder of the tour as India sealed a historic ODI and T20 series.
It’s an interesting love-hate relationship between star athletes, coaches and the media, across the globe. Whichever the sport, as long as the media is writing good stuff, the athlete or team concerned is happy. The problem starts when they get criticised.
One can understand Kohli’s statements as he would like us to believe he does not read newspapers and what’s written about his own batting, captaincy and the team’s performance. In an age when news travels superfast, where modern communication and social media blow up news and views in real time, if Kohli says he does not “read” newspapers, it would be hard to believe.
Yes, he is a thoroughly focused skipper – who spends all his time and energy in a positive manner with the team. But then, can coach Shastri get away by saying he has no idea what newspapers are writing or what the experts are discussing on television? It’s good if cricketers can stay away from newspapers during match days. But to say they never read any newspaper clipping is very hard to believe.
After all, each superstar athlete has some friend or the other in the media who is updating them, Kohli included. The more serious comment comes from Shastri where he talks of people being happy when Team India loses. As someone who has himself been part of the media for long – as a TV commentator, expert and columnist – Shastri knows what a journo’s job is all about. Frankly speaking, just as Kohli and Shastri do an honest job, so do the people who write on cricket and other sports.
It’s not just these two eminent men who look at the role of the media through their own prism. From Olympic stars like Abhinav Bindra to Sushil Kumar and Leander Paes to Mahesh Bhupathi, each one of them has dealt with the media in positive and negative ways. As a rule, cricketers pick and choose who they want to talk to, unless it’s at a press conference. In comparison, if you want to talk to a kabaddi player, wrestler, weightlifter, footballer or badminton star at home, it’s much easier.
In Indian sport, there is a clear division – cricket and other sports. Shastri has dealt with the media first as a player, then as director coaching, and now as coach. For him to say that people are happy when the team loses is in bad taste.
The average Indian loves cricket. When the team shines, people are happy. When Kohli keeps breaking records, people feel as if they are part of the journey. When an Indian fast bowler hits the deck at close to 98 miles per hour or wrist spinners like Yuzvendra Chahal and Kuldeep Yadav destroy the opposition, even a person battling a painful experience forgets pain for a while.
No Indian, be it the average fan or most honest critic, wants to see his team or idol do badly. The connect between cricket and the commoner is huge in India. So from the panwallah to club cricketer and office-goer to mediaperson, each person watches cricket with great passion. There is pain when the team does badly. There is joy when the Men in Blue destroy tough opposition like South Africa.
Just as professional sportspersons have a job to do and get handsomely paid for it, the cricket lover has a right to see icon Kohli rock and the team win. Shastri needs to know cricket fans love the sport and link it with patriotism. Please don’t bleed their hearts by making reckless and irresponsible statements.
(Courtesy of Mail Today)