Journalists’ covenants on cricket and more

16 Jan,2012

By Ranjona Banerji


Aging batsmen, an arrogant captain making bad choices, indifferent performances, the Indian Premier League and the Board for Control of Cricket in India- all or some of these are to blame for the Indian cricket team’s unfortunate performance in Australia.


Television, which was building itself up, started in a slow frenzy at the start of the weekend but it was all out there – foam, fits – by Sunday evening. Arnab Goswami of Times Now, amply helped by his alter ego Boria Majumdar inAustralia, was extremely saddened as only he can be by Indian cricket captain MS Dhoni in particular. Had Dhoni denigrated Test cricket by suggesting that he might retire from that version of the game? Was this the end of civilisation as we know it and so on? He was supported by Bishen Singh Bedi who was sputtering at the mouth with anger and by the cynical observations of another guest who got Goswami and Bedi even more enraged.


Newspapers are still more circumspect but try ‘Shame Old Story’ and ‘Disgrace’ from The Times of India, ‘Perth Pangs’ and ‘India blunder, Oz plunder’ from Hindustan Times. Sunday Mid-Day tried to put a spin on it with ‘Bright Spark’, referring to bowler Umesh Yadav getting five wickets but the strap line below the headline emphasisedIndia’s batting collapse.


Luckily forIndia’s beleaguered cricketers, a week is a very short time in journalism. Just before the India-Australia series started, I seem to rememberAustraliabeing hammered for losing toNew ZealandandIndiafeeling all pumped up because of its enormous talent and at-home victories. A couple of days atMelbourneand all that moaning and hype was completely reversed.


My journalist friends and colleagues tell me that I should not be so hard on my fellow journalists and that it is the job of journalists to get hysterical and to have no memories at all, especially when it comes to sport. There is apparently some mysterious covenant signed by sports journalists (us general purpose journos are not privy to this procedure) by which they have to swear that they will make every effort not to remember what they had said or written the week before. Also that every loss by a sports team or person has to be portrayed as the end of the world and every victory had to be the best ever. I know this to be true from my experiences as a tennis fan (empirical evidence!).


We already know that TV people have their own covenant which makes them swear to try and “save” Indiaat every opportunity and know as little as possible about any subject which gets them all excited.


The cocktail of these two covenants makes for some very dramatic viewing and for those with longer attention spans, there are newspaper articles. Some sober commentators in print will try to look at the larger picture and to extrapolate future courses of action from past experiences. They may be chucked out of the Lodge for breaking the covenant unless they are long term offenders. But in these times, the hysteria will win. Except of course tillIndiawins something!


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