Cricket is a big game in India and has a huge following and therefore it’s understandable that both the electronic and print media are under pressure to keep the players in the spotlight and have some story or the other for the followers who don't seem to get enough of their favourite players. They want to know more, something that they don’t know as yet. Last week when India and Australia were playing the third Test in Ranchi after the acrimony of the second Test, sparks were bound to fly and they did. The verbals on the field got highlighted as much if not more than what the players had done on the field. Both sides hurled accusations at each other and for the media this was manna from heaven. Sure enough in the days after the Test was drawn there had to be news about this being said and that being done. India - Australia matches have been keen contests for the last three or four decades but to suggest that it all started in 1981 when I was given out leg before wicket and therefore wanted to walk off is simply sloppy and shoddy reporting for if the journalist had taken the trouble to see the video of the incident he would have seen that I did not walk off because of the decision but I asked my partner to walk off only when I was abused as I was leaving the pitch. It was not the first time I had been given out wrongly neither the last time but it certainly was the first time I had been abused and that too while I was leaving the pitch.
Unfortunately hurling verbals at opponents has come to be seen as being macho and with the ICC not coming down heavily on such boorish behaviour the practice has now permeated into junior cricket where the youngsters seeing the seniors doing it and getting away with it, think that it is part of the game.
Interestingly after my retirement when I happened to be in Australia to cover the India tour I asked the late Sir Don Bradman what he thought of this practice that was burgeoning in the game and if it happened during his time. His answer was that ‘no it never happened during his time and if any of his players ever did it he would have warned him after the first offence and if he repeated it then he would never play for Australia at least till he (Sir Don) was the captain’ so all those who say that this has been going on ever since cricket began are talking rubbish.
Not just Sir Don, but the greatest ever, Sir Garfield Sobers also said that there was hardly any chat during the time that he played. The simple fact of the matter is that great players don’t need to speak with the mouths, they do with their deeds with bat and ball. It’s only the sideys who in order to hide their deficiencies and inadequacy who open their mouths.
Cheteshwar Pujara is one who has always let the bat do the talking and his brilliant double ton that shored the Indian innings after they had lost 4 wickets for not too many is the CEAT International Cricketer of the Week.