Needless veil of secrecy, an embarrassment

Needless veil of secrecy, an embarrassment

India’s reputation as one of the most media-unfriendly teams is already well chronicled. Just why that reputation continues to travel with them was again driven home through the inexplicable withholding of basic, harmless information.

Even as manager Ranjib Biswal was busy denying reports that there had ever been a plan for the team to take a ‘comfort break’ and return home for three days between India’s first and second matches, two members of the tri-series squad were already on their way back to India after officially being sanctioned a three-day break by the Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI). Why could it not have been made public that Virender Sehwag and Suresh Raina had both been granted three days’ leave of absence? Surely, this is no national secret, and it doesn’t put the country’s security interests under threat. All it required from the Board was an e-mail – of the sort that cursorily informed the world of Munaf Patel’s arrival here as an additional member of the tri-series squad – stating that the said pair had been authorised to go home for three days. In the absence of official communication, the scope for speculation is immense. Both the Board and the players are understandably testy when speculative stories break out, but by unnecessarily playing the game of intrigue, they aren’t helping matters any.

Especially when it comes to information about injuries, Indians are known to be particularly coy. There are instances when even the captain has gone on record as saying he is not sure if a player is injured in his left knee or right knee!

India are the only side that consistently, indeed steadfastly, don’t travel with a media manager on tour and invariably, they have the largest travelling media contingent. Given their standing as one of the superpowers of world cricket, they generate great interest wherever they go, but information is always at a premium. The opportunity to be ambassadors for the country and to put forward their views comes the way of only a few, but for reasons best known to them, the Indian management has repeatedly opted to don the cloak of inscrutable silence. Perhaps, he had been acting under instructions from the BCCI when he issued denials on Thursday, but Biswal did cut somewhat of a sorry figure on Friday as he slipped into damage-control mode. “Sehwag and Raina had cited personal reasons in asking for a three-day break, and  the Board gave them permission to return home,” Biswal said. “They will rejoin the team tomorrow. There is no question of a comfort break because if that had been the case, why would only two people go home?”

Why, indeed? Is this ‘break’ performance-based? Or is there more to it than meets the eye? Questions, and only questions. How typical of Indian cricket!

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