Thursday, April 5, 2007


By Manuwant Choudhary

In England cricket is a gentleman's game, in India it is religion and in Pakistan - fundamentalism.
A decade ago when I was still training to be a journalist my editor the great Behram Contractor from the Bombay newspaper The Afternoon Despatch & Courier asked me to cover a press meet by some foreign coaches at the Bombay Gymkhana. I had little interest in the game..played it at school but I wasn't a cricket nationalist and didn't care for religions and had no ambition to be a sports journalist, so my editor's request was strange considering the newspapers sports editor was none other than Mr. Rajan Bala, besides there were other sports reporters who could have easily done the job. At the office it became quite an issue but then I finally relented and did go to the event only to learn the event was cancelled.
The issue seemed so important that many days later the editors wife asked me, "So Manu, did you finally cover the sports presser?"
For many years I wondered why my editor chose me. Now my editor is no more. But when the match-fixing stories were first exposed, I understood why.
And in this years World Cup with the humiliating defeat of both India and Pakistan and the mysterious death of Pakistan coach Bob Woolmer, I understand better that editors don't send reporters to events only as a daily chore.
Watching Pakistan captain Inzimam smilingly answer murder charges on STAR Sports it is clear sports doesn't need just sports journalists.
Yet, I am thankful there is a Harsha Bhogle driving some sense in all this...and yes my senior Rajan Bala saving a foreign coach Greg Chappel from lynch journalism.
Greg Chappel has exposed that the players who went for the World Cup were not a team.
As for who should share the blame? Greg has honourably resigned, Rahul Dravid should step down and yes Sharad Pawar too. As for moral responsibility...considering cricket is religion in India...even Prime Minister Dr. Manmohan Singh could resign for a good cause.
More seriously, cricket is a game like any other...the only difference is that Dawood Ibrahim watches only this game.
The hysteria over cricket in India is unreal and the media plays to the gallery -they too have deals - so the only way to restore sanity to the game and India is to make the media moghuls hon.members of BCCI.

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