ICC World Twenty20: Team India ducks media again, BCCI says players have no time
Ahead of the Twenty20 World Cup, the Indian team chose to give the media a cold shoulder. The BCCI's unofficial gag order on players and coaches has left journalists in the lurch. Are players scared to face tough questions?
In a little under 24 hours, the Indian cricket team will embark on its ICC Twenty20 World Cup campaign in Bangladesh. But no one will hear skipper Mahendra Singh Dhoni spell out his vision for the mission. Saddled by controversies over team's abysmal performances in the recent past and the fixing fiasco, the BCCI has preferred a stoic silence from the captain and the coach. So much so that even the selectors have been gagged. (Read: Virat Kohli rearing to get back into action)
The Men in Blue left Indian shores ahead of the Asia Cup more than a fortnight ago without doing the customary press conference. Why? Maybe because that would be the best way for the BCCI to shield their captain, who has been hounded by reporters ever since the Mukul Mudgal report on fixing and betting in the IPL was released. After all, his former boss at Chennai Super Kings, Gurunath Meiyappan was found guilty of illegal betting. (Read: The seven big points of BCCI's reply to Supreme Court on Mudgal committee's probe report on IPL corruption)
However, this is what the official statement from the BCCI said: "There is no plan behind why we are not holding the pre-departure press conference as such. Just that the boys have come back from a tour and we want to give them some time. Also some of them are playing in the Vijay Hazare Trophy and will report later on Thursday. Due to lack of time there won't be any press conference." (Don't make players names public, BCCI tells Supreme Court)
Even if one buys the BCCI's argument, what was the explanation for Dhoni refusing to answer questions on IPL corruption before the team left for the ICC Champions Trophy eight months ago? (Yuvraj backs India's powerhouse batting to fire in Twenty20 World Cup)
Not just official press conferences, players have also been gagged from speaking to the media even when India are not playing cricket. Shikhar Dhawan was at an event in Delhi recently but didn't say a word to the media as per his contract with the BCCI that doesn't allow players to speak 40 days before and after a tour. That means the packed international schedule of the team would never allow the players to talk to the media about team-related affairs.
The only media interactions that they are allowed are with the official broadcasters and tournament organisers where the questions are filtered to keep away all sorts of controversies.
In fact, it's also common knowledge that the BCCI only appoints a coach for the national team based on an understanding that he will keep a low profile and remain behind the scenes.
The national selectors are in a way gagged too. There's no reason given these days for selecting a particular team. Perhaps the BCCI truly believes that 'one man's transparency will lead to another man's humiliation.'