Urges media to ‘stop focussing on just one player’
London: Just days after the defeat in the Lord’s Test, Indian off-spinner Harbhajan Singh has conceded that the media’s unremitting focus on a single player was distracting and this was one of the reasons why his own bowling was relatively not ‘all that effective’ in the Test.
‘The media must understand that cricket, unlike mixed-doubles in tennis, is a team game. But when a single player is singled out for special coverage, it doubtless creates tension in the team,’ Harbhajan Singh said here ahead of the Test at Trent Bridge.
When reporters asked him to be explicit and name the player he had in mind, Harbhajan Singh said: ‘of course, it’s Amit Mishra’
‘I am completely baffled. I mean, I fail to understand this brouhaha over Amit Mishra. Right from the run-up to the Lord’s Test, the media has been constantly nattering whether Mishra should play or not. As if that was enough, now before the start of the second Test, there is an outcry that he should be in the team,’ Harbhajan said and added ‘see, such clamour is upsetting. Sachin (Tendulkar) fell ill because of this. Zaheer’s torn hamstring could also be due to this’.
‘Leave Amit Mishra alone. Allow him to perform the difficult duties of a substitute in the Trent Bridge Test is my humble request to the media,’ Harbhajan said emotionally. ‘We have already paid with the careers of talented players like Amay Khurasia and Devang Gandhi due to the fixation of the media’
Harbhajan added he was not unduly perturbed by his own form in the Lord’s Test. ‘I took just one wicket less than Zaheer in the entire Test. He was the spearhead. To have ended so close to him in the wicket-taking list… I’ll take it any day’.
Despite the overall criticism from the media and former players, the Turbanator pointed out he was happy to get the backing of Mahendra Singh Dhoni. ‘This only shows that he is a natural leader who rises above the vagaries of the game and takes into account the bigger picture of our all-important business relationship’.
Later, Dhoni, during an interaction with the reporters, openly pulled up Amit Mishra.
“If you want to irritate someone that should be the opposition and not your side,” the captain said, almost repeating the words that he had for Sreesanth not long ago.
Dhoni said he had no issues with Mishra as long as he keeps his attention-seeking ways within limits.
Meanwhile, considering the repeated injuries and physical ailments to its players, the Indian cricket board has approved the appointment of one more doctor to travel with the team. Official sources claimed that the doctor who has been appointed is also the personal physician of Krishnamachari Srikkanth, the chairman of Indian selectors, the brand ambassador of the IPL team Chennai Super Kings, the father of Anirudha Srikkanth who is the opener of Indian Emerging XI and the CSK, which is owned by India Cements helmed by N Srinivasan, who is the head honcho of the BCCI, which appoints Srikkanth.
‘It was a professional choice,’ the BCCI said on the appointment of the doctor who will travel with the team. ‘There was no other consideration. If anyone thinks there is a conflict of interest in any of our dealings, we challenge him/her to prove it,’ the BCCI added.
Elsewhere, taking cognizance of the sustained failures of the Indian team in the first Test of an away series, the BCCI is mulling the possibility of playing the second Tests first and then tucking the first Test somewhere in between.
‘It’s an idea that we are pursuing,’ a top official of the BCCI said. ‘But the one solution that straightaway offers itself is playing one-off Test series. When you do this, the first Test, by itself, becomes the last Test. And in the time saved by not playing other Tests, we can create a window for the IPL, too,’ he added.
Meanwhile, it is learnt that there has been a move to push the ‘Honours Board’ and the ‘Long Room’ from the Lord’s to the M A Chidambaram stadium in Chennai. ‘The ICC headquarters has been shifted out of London to Dubai. And it’s only fair and equitable that the ‘Long Room’ and ‘Honours Board’ are taken elsewhere too,’ a top cricketing official in the know of things said.
He refuted the suggestion that the ‘historic attractions’ of the Lord’s are being removed in a petulant reaction to the fact that Sachin Tendulkar has been unable to score a century there. ‘Let me make it clear, if Sachin hasn’t scored a century at a particular ground then it’s the failure of that ground and not his. By not boasting of a century from Tendulkar, Lord’s has all but lost all its hallowed status’.
(Disclaimer: It pays to cement your place in the team. And it pays more if that cement is, well, you know the company)