Are we being politically too correct

Written by Boria Majumdar | Updated: Sep 4 2011, 08:12am hrs
There are things that you can and cannot say on commentary. While Nasser Hussain is very much within his rights in criticising Indias fielding, he has clearly overstepped his brief by comparing some of the Indian fielders with donkeys. It is akin to Dean Jones calling Hashim Amla a terrorist. Jones, as we know, was asked to apologise and was even removed from his job. Harsha Bhogle, who was with Hussain in commentary at the time, chose to remain silent. While Bhogle was very much within his rights in trying to douse another controversy from brewing, he ought to have stood up against use of such language by Hussain. The obvious attempt to stay non-controversial, a trait with some Indian commentators, does affect our cricket on occasions. Indian cricket and cricketers would have benefitted from a more proactive Bhogle, especially because he commands respect as a voice of reason.

I cant just imagine Hussain remaining silent if a similar comment was made about English cricketers by an Indian commentator. His stinging criticism of Ravi Shastri for saying the England and Wales Cricket Board (ECB) and English commentators are jealous of the BCCI during the Vaseline controversy stands testimony to what I am saying. And Hussain was absolutely right in defending himself and his board. This is why a rather passive reaction from some of our very own to serious provocation raises a serious question. Are we paying a price for trying to be politically correct and perhaps too correct on occasions

Indian cricket, more than ever before, is in need of an assertive media in every sense. With India not doing well on the field, it is only natural that English and Australian commentators will do their bit to get under the skin of the players and the board. When the English were whitewashed in India in the one-day series in December 2008, a series when they were literally toyed with by the Indian batsmen, the Indian media had not gone on to make a derogatory personal comment about any of the English players. In that sense Hussains comment was unnecessary and unwarranted. At the same time there are some fundamental flaws in our cricket which need to be ironed out if Test cricket in India is to be protected. And here again the media can force the BCCI to act. For, far too long the BCCI has had it easy. To get one interview or one piece of news, sections of the media have chosen to remain uncritical of the Board and its workings. Indian cricket, it is time to accept, is in need of reform and it has to start at the top to have any significant impact.

To be more specific, the Indian captain has now clearly stated that rotation is the only way forward. Do we really know if there is a policy in place Will the BCCI actually take up the suggestion seriously For far too long we have been told that players in need of rest need to just say so and the BCCI will grant permission. The Kevin Pietersen case is evidence that it must be the other way round. Players, especially at times of competition, arent always in a position to opt out of a series. It is the Boards responsibility to force them to do so if need be. And in situations when the BCCI is guilty of dereliction of duty it is on the media to point out the lapse/s.

We need a constructive but critical media that can stand up and also criticise. Unless that happens India will be at the receiving end come December when the team plays yet another tough series Down Under against the Australians.

Finally, it is time to suggest that players reaction to critical comments too must change. More often than not it is a defensive reaction. Some of them subsequently refuse to speak to the person who has been critical without understanding that such a reaction amounts to little. It is a symbiotic relationship with both, the players and the media, feeding off each other. Players words are not sermon that will forever change a journalists life. By not speaking to a specific media person a player might temporarily cause him some embarrassment but in the long run it matters little. Rather, a journalist true to his cause has many more years ahead of him to make a true impact on the sport he covers, more reason why we need to be forthright and not always be politically correct. Being firm, committed and upright, the Anna movement has shown, is the only way forward and Indian cricket cant and shouldnt try to stay immune to this wave of change.

The writer is a sports historian