Virender Sehwag’s tweeted explanation about how his comments had been twisted did a lot to restore some sanity into the world of rampant rumours. Yet, Arunabha Sengupta feels that he has been around long enough to know the diabolical spins that can always be put on his comments, especially when MS Dhoni is involved.
Mahendra Singh Dhoni must have seen better birthday eves. It cannot be a joy to sit reflecting on turning 31, only to find newspapers, television channels and websites screaming themselves hoarse, striving to pry open old cracks that have just about managed to mend with time.
“Dhoni alone didn’t win us the World Cup,” shouts the banners, with the pensive face of Virender Sehwag inset for good measure. If the stories of their rift during the recent Australian tour had already settled in the far recesses of the short public memory, they had just been catapulted back to the forefront.
Late in the evening, Sehwag’s tweeted explanation that his comments had been twisted did much to bring some sanity into a world ravaged by rampant rumours.
Indeed, when one takes his eyes off the headlines and glimpses down to read through the articles, the words seem more measured, reasonable. Sehwag is quoted saying, “Dhoni got a very strong team. When you get a strong team, it is easier to perform well just like Australia did at one point of time. We won the World Cup because we had a very strong team which was ably backed by Dhoni's leadership.”
No one can deny that the Indian team that triumphed in Mumbai in April 2011 was a strong one. Likewise no one can deny the influence of Dhoni’s calmness at the helm. A captain is as good as his team, some reports claim Sehwag to have added, and if that is uniformly applied to every skipper of India, no one should have any issues.
The headlines, in retrospect – even without Sehwag’s counter claims – do seem to be snowballing and unethical extrapolation of statements that are both logical and true, a created crosspiece of controversy that links innocent conclusions to give them a sinister shape. Hinting at the continuing tension between the batsman and the captain, urging people to ask uncomfortable hypothetical questions about the opener’s opinions on captaincy if India had won the World Cup under Sourav Ganguly or Rahul Dravid.
As Sehwag mentioned in his tweets, “Unfortunate when a comment is twisted to make it newsworthy. Gist of what I said: We had a great team and thus we have won 2 WCups under MSD,” adding further, “MSD is a good captain and one of the most successful captains we have had. To imply anything else from my statement was irresponsible.”
Virtue of shouldering arms
But, Sehwag has been around long enough to know well enough about the menacing media world that hovers around the cricketers. He played his first Test match more than a decade ago. Surely by now he should be aware of the potential of a scavenging lot eager to snap at a processed nugget of manufactured news – tasty titbits that, garnished with enough flavour of bad blood, will be lapped up greedily by ‘cricket enthusiasts’.
With controversies that had flamed around the rotation policy barely five months earlier, was it too difficult to predict the possible manipulations of the statements? The way they would be stretched into a provocative form and dipped into colours that would allow gossip mongers and consumers alike to home in and insert the rumour happy tentacles into the resulting slush?
When Sachin Tendulkar was moved enough after the World Cup triumph to proclaim MS Dhoni as the best captain he had played under, it created a massive movement in several sections of the media who variously sought to prove, disprove, analyse the statement, and even unearth incredible motivations behind it. In the inflammable world of Indian cricket, especially the top job, sustained as much by slander and calumny as by centuries and five-fors, even the most innocuous comments aired can be engulfed in furious crossfire. It is very easy to be caught on the wrong foot, entrapped by the echoes of one’s own words.
Even with his celebrated uncluttered mind, was it too difficult to foresee that people would become curious about the correlation of the words with the equation between the opening batsman and his skipper?
True, he can be given the benefit of the doubt – for speaking firm and straightforward as his game, only to see his words mutilated into nasty, malicious forms. It does him credit that he immediately set the record straight with clear, candid tweets. Yet, perhaps the whole fiasco could have been avoided.
Howsoever against his nature it may be, it is sometimes prudent to leave balls outside the off-stump. As in his batting, Sehwag does need to acquire this skill of shouldering arms off the field, while negotiating much more diabolical and poisonous questions than will ever be asked from across 22 yards.
(Arunabha Sengupta is trained from Indian Statistical Institute as a Statistician. He works as a Process Consultant, but purifies the soul through writing and cricket, often mixing the two into a cleansing cocktail. The author of three novels, he currently resides in the incredibly beautiful, but sadly cricket-ignorant, country of Switzerland. You can know more about him from his author site, his cricket blogs and by following him on Twitter)