New Delhi: Team India beginning its preparations for the England series on November 9th with a huddle.
Cheteshwar Pujara locked in a long conversation with coach Duncan Fletcher a day before the 1st Test.
Virat Kohli re-adjusting his stance on the advice of the coach.
Zaheer Khan mentoring the Indian bowling group during the practice sessions.
Sachin Tendulkar batting for an extended session against the bowling machine to prepare for England.
Most Indian cricket fans would have loved to see these images being beamed to their drawing rooms, in the lead up to the series. Of course not everything will be brought to your drawing rooms by the host broadcaster.
The reason that images like these are missed is because TV reporters are no longer covering cricket from the stadiums and practice venues. Hence there are no cricket stories about team strategies on TV these days. One only gets to hear expert opinion.
That's because of an extended battle between the News Broadcasters Association (a consortium of news TV channels), the BCCI and the host broadcaster that has bought the TV rights for billions of dollars. The fight that began with the Australia series back in 2010 continues to plague us even now. And in some ways it has rendered TV cricket journalists redundant. Why you may ask? This has ensured that we do not get access to match venues anymore, nor do we get to cover events and interviews around the series. So what exactly are the sides batting for?
* Amount of footage that can be used every day
* Footage used on special cricket shows that are sponsored
* Consequences of breach of guidelines
The International Cricket Council had filed a court case against a news TV channel ahead of the World T20 to set an example of sorts.
The model that BCCI is urging the news channels to follow is of the 2007 Rugby World Cup, the International Cricket Council's Champions Trophy in 2009, the PGA Tour and the London Marathon. All these events give restricted access to news channels wherein the volume of footage usage is pre-determined. In many cases the channels resort to using stills from big events.
Surely the News Broadcasters in India want more than that! But the host broadcasters have refused to yield.
As a result of the rights issues, our accreditations were stopped mid-way through the ICC Cricket World Cup in 2011. So, most of us covering the event worked out of our OB vans, stationed outside the stadiums and were not even allowed to enter the stadium post the match.
And it isn't just the news broadcasters suffering because of lack of content but the press photographers too are affected. BCCI's restrictions on them or rather not giving access to them have been described as 'DEPLORABLE'. Deplorable or not, this is an infringement on the freedom of press. BCCI is supplying them with their own images but the agencies meanwhile have decided to boycott the ongoing India vs England series.
One is not sure whether BCCI bigwigs consider the value of the 4th estate. They may not be accountable to the government because they have resisted coming under the RTI. But surely they are accountable to the public who wants to know more and more about their favourite game and their cricketing Gods.
Perhaps a patch up between the media and the BCCI is what both parties should see an opportunity in!