Can This Sensationalism For Sports Sake!

M. S. Dhoni


When it comes to sport, we get some real biased reporting. Just for a few inches of fame, these purveyors of rubbish sensationalise small things and blow them out of proportions.

Take the case of Mahendra Singh Dhoni in the on-going one-day series against the West Indies there. The case in question is the fourth one-dayer which India lost by a mere 11 runs in Antigua. Agreed Dhoni played a slow innings, getting 54 off 114 balls. But this led to many critics sharpening their knives and digging into Dhoni with relish.

One leading newspaper ran a huge lead story on the subject just to nail it in.

Why? Cricket is played with 11 players and not by Dhoni alone. What was the contribution from the others who were picked for their batting ability?

It doesn’t wash. Captain Virat Kohli squarely blamed the batsmen for playing rash shots. This was a slow pitch and somebody had to stay in there to grind out the runs.

If the other so-called batsmen had done their bit, then Dhoni would have been hailed as a hero. But barring Ajinkya Rahane, nobody had the patience to stick it out in the face of a smallish total on a two-paced pitch which was used in the previous match.

The irony of it all is that two days ago, Dhoni was hailed as a hero. He smashed 78 off 79 balls to push India’s total from mediocre to winning one.

The critics waxed lyrical.  And then one match later he becomes the villain-in-chief.

Sadly sports journalism has plummeted to the depths of despair. Assessment is thoroughly lacking and sensationalism is the order of the day. Many of them lack knowledge of the game. They are thoroughly versed in statistics which form the basis of their reporting.

A few decades ago, cricket writers had become household names. Scribes like Sundar Rajan, R Mohan, G K Menon, Ron Hendricks, Ron Pedro, S K Sham and K N Prabhu among others were respected for their opinion, both by the players and the readers.

One always looked forward to their reports which were clean and only critical when there was need for it.

Today, you only have someone like Ayaz Memon, a veteran anyway, whose copies are worth reading.

Today’s writers quote statistics which, most times, are irrelevant. Statistics are just an indicator of form and nothing else. But these earnest chaps dig deep and come up with figures which are amusing. Does it really matter if Kohli hit a six through extra cover three months ago in a match in Kolkata off the third ball of the 17th over?

In a game, situations and ability to tackle them matter, not past performances.

This reaction to Dhoni is understandable. He is ageing and his reflexes are slower. He has a clean image and highly respected all over the world. One must also not forget that he still is the best keeper in the business and an excellent runner between the wickets.

The train of thought was started when one of India’s greats Rahul Dravid said that India should think seriously about replacements for Dhoni and Yuvraj Singh. He meant in the furure and by no means did he question their ability.

But some of these writers took it as a peg to start an anti-Dhoni tirade.

We have some excellent replacements for Dhoni but they must earn their cap. Subcontinent teams are always ready to dish out caps easily and the sheer output is enormous.

One fact must be remembered always. Dhoni knows what is good for him. He quit Tests when he knew his high standards were falling. This was unlike so many other Indian greats who continued well past their shelf life. So don’t be surprised if he leaves the big stage when he knows that he is done.

He is a great player and true representative of the country with loads of sporting spirit. Don’t damage his reputation for sake of obnoxious copies.

Let him go with respect. We owe it to this great Indian cricket icon.

Babu Kalyanpur

Babu Kalyanpur, ( Consulting Editor) has rich experience in both sports and business journalism. Babu has led news desks in Pune and Bahrain and writes extensively on his passion, sports and business besides current affairs and matters of importance to Pune.

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