New Delhi:Former India captain Rahul Dravid believes that the on-field behaviour of cricketers has improved in the last few years but the increasing media reporting of incidents of code of conduct violation has made it look otherwise.
Dravid said the impression that players were toeing the line more often than not was due to an increased media coverage of the game.
"Players' behaviour has not deteriorated but improved over the years. It is only because of the media scrutiny that the feeling is that cricketers are breaking the limits," Dravid said at the 'Hindustan Times Leadership Summit' on Saturday.
"Earlier in the '60s and '70s also players used to involve in such chit-chats but media would not focus on that. But now at the end of the day when you go to press conference you are even asked about small things like what two players were talking in the field ... which is often blown out of proportion," he said.
Dravid said he did not consider sledging against the spirit of the game.
"No, I don't think so that's against the spirit of the game," he said.
Former England captain Michael Vaughan also echoed Dravid's views and said he did "not mind it (sledging) as long as it was in the spirit of the game which was hard spirit".
Asked if the rules related to sledging were more suited to non-Asian cultures, Dravid offered a different opinion, saying unpleasant remarks were prevalent in all the cultures. "If you live in India you deal with it (swear words) all the time. We have it all the time in our dressing rooms. Moreover there cannot be rules about confrontations," he said.
Dravid felt that responsibility lies on the leaders and the administrators to see that anyone's sentiments were not hurt.
"More responsibilities lied on captain and administrators that players learned to respect each other. Like in IPL you get much better awareness about people's culture and addressing the mis-understandings," he said.
He said given the interest in cricket in India, the players should learn to cope with the media.
"We must realise that we cannot do away with it. Media has grown 10-fold since my days as a youngster. Media is having so much interest in the game, you begin to appreciate that because it's necessary not only for the sport but also to market the players. So everything has a flip side," he added.
Dravid, who led India to some historic wins on foreign soils, confessed that media does influence the decision making of the players.
"It is impossible to live in the society and not get affected by it. But I am sure when you look back at certain decisions," he said without elaborating, "you feel in the hindsight you feel you have taken some decisions under pressure".
The Karnataka batsman also said young players should be educated by their seniors about how to deal with media while the Board should monitor and regulate the agents signing the teenagers.
"I agree with Michael (Vaughan). There is a role for senior players to educate the youngsters, especially when you see there is so many attractions for cricketers.
"Agents are good if you have right agent at the right time, it gives you peace of mind. But the boys at the age of 14-15 cannot take right decisions so for them it's needed to be monitored and regulated by the Board.
"For instance, in England if you are to be a football agent you have got to have a certificate from the Federation since you are dealing with young boys and girls as sometimes their families are also not in a position to take right decisions."
Asked if senior players should make ways for young players, Dravid said the decision should be based on the performance and not on age.
"It's going to be the debate always. It's not a new one... I am used to be under scrutiny. As a cricketer, we are used to that as since I was 23 I am being picked for the India team.
"People do ask that don't you feel crowded but I am used to it. As long as you are playing, you are under scrutiny. It's up to the selectors to take decisions and not on the basis of junior or senior".
About the retirement of Anil Kumble and Sourav Ganguly, Dravid said they went on their own terms and there was no deal with the BCCI.
"I don't think there was a deal. They are legends, they went on their own terms."
On the subject of endorsements, Dravid said all players were aware that only good performance would get them such deals
and "it's all going to stop once they fail to perform. The bottom line is that players are aware of that. So I don't think it has influenced on their performance".
To a question why many players were from small cities, Dravid said, "BCCI had done a wonderful job of making available the facilities in smaller towns. But in the big cities time is the constraint with many other pressures."