Author: Vimal Kumar
The world’s number two female tennis player Naomi Osaka took a decision that caused a stir. The Japanese player expressed her inability to hold regular press conferences during a very important Grand Slam tournament. Due to this, he was also fined 15 thousand dollars. In turn, Naomi withdrew from the tournament itself. Actually, according to the rules of the Grand Slam tournament, if a player refuses to talk to the media in the press conference after the match, then he can be fined up to 20 thousand US dollars.
Osaka’s decision has put the Indian sports media in a tizzy. Especially the section related to cricket coverage. Many experts feel that if an Indian cricketer takes a step like Osaka, then BCCI will stand on the side of its player. Well, there are two sides to this issue as well. If the players and the board have to adopt a balanced approach, then the media will also have to think that the dignity of the press conference should be taken care of. Former India captain Mahendra Singh Dhoni did not give one-to-one interviews, while even veterans like Sachin Tendulkar and Rahul Dravid could not make such a decision.
Dhoni used to argue that there are so many media houses in India, so it is not a right tradition to give a separate interview to a journalist. It is better that all the questions should be answered in the press conference. Dhoni followed this principle for the first 5-6 years of captaincy. However, on several occasions he did not fail to tell me or some other journalists that ‘Man, talking to the media before and after every match is a very tiring system. How does this benefit anyone? The questions are also almost the same and there is not much difference in my answer.
Then, as Gurunath Meiyappan brought Dhoni into controversy in the 2013 IPL spot-fixing scandal, Mahi has since been uprooted from the press. Dhoni put this thing in the minds of the new generation players that if you play well then the press is compelled to praise. If it doesn’t play out well, the media will only find controversial things. Do you remember, the film made on Dhoni has only a few scenes about the media and the kind of comment made about the controversy with Virender Sehwag in one scene, it was clear that Mahi does not have much respect for the Indian media. Keeping it
There are many occasions when players themselves wait for media interaction, as they have to explain themselves on many issues. In the past, we have seen how many players, including Rohit Sharma and Ravichandran Ashwin, have said things in a public forum that they might not have said in interviews. On any question of the reporter in the press conference, there is no scope to say that any particular player has deliberately set a particular question.
Yes, one thing is for sure that when cricketers come to a press conference now, 70 per cent of the talk is done by rote and on a pattern. Despite this, it is important, because you can ask any question to the player. Press conferences are also important because here the dominance of the media house or any big reporter is not given priority.
But, the important question still remains that can anything change in Indian cricket after the Osaka episode? The simple answer is that its foundation has already been laid. You look at the press conference of the world’s most successful league i.e. IPL. There is no fixed rule that the captain will come every time to answer your questions. On foreign tours, the Indian media doesn’t get a single player for weeks until an important match draws near.
The board and the players feel that in this age of social media what do they need for the press. Whatever has to be said, he will say through his social media account and press release. Doing so is comfortable for the players and the board, but in this way an important path is closed for the fans. After victory, something gets written on every player’s social media account, but after defeat everyone remains calm. In such a situation, there are few reporters, who bring restrained and relevant news in this difficult period.
Well, no matter how much players dislike the press, they know that media exposure improves their brand. Players use it in their own way. Do you remember how Kohli once appeased the government by calling demonetisation a masterstroke. It is said about Sourav Ganguly that when he had to put some kind of pressure on his teammates, he used to send certain questions to his favorite journalists of Kolkata in advance. That is, not only journalists, players also need a press conference. Even if they don’t openly admit it.
Disclaimer: The views expressed above are those of the author.
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