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Sight Screen

Monday, June 06, 2005

The blog manifesto

Okay, guys, this is the first -- and last -- time I plan to bring this subject up, on this forum. Said subject being my presumed 'hatred' of Saurav Ganguly. And I am prompted to bring the subject up after finding the comment below, attached to the blog post 'Saurav for skipper':
I don't think it's true that you made up your mind duing Pakistan series. The fact is YOU and REDIFF never really liked Sourav Ganguly. The readers who frequent Rediff know this very well. I for one is not going to read any of your blogs on Sourav. Your comments on other subjects are worth reading though.

It's an anonymous posting, so I don't know who I am addressing. Doesn't matter, actually -- more than one person has said this, sometimes in language I cannot reproduce in a family forum :-)
So, this: In February of 2000, the captaincy of the Indian team was being hotly debated. Sachin had given up on the job; sections within the Board were trying to give it back to Azhar; there was a sub-section of opinion favoring Rahul Dravid, and another, smaller, body of opinion that wanted Anil Kumble to get the arm-band (Incidentally, both are friends of mine).
I had written a piece on the issue at the time; in it, I proposed a name that till that point in time had not been brought up -- by the selectors, the board, or even the media. Guess who?
In December 2002, the big debate was who should lead India to the World Cup. Ganguly, the thinking of the time went, had reached his use-by date and should be axed; the only question was whether the job should go to Tendulkar, or Dravid. At the time, I had written a column that went against prevailing wisdom, and suggested who, to my mind, should lead the side. Guess who?
How come, when I wrote those pieces, no one suggested it was because I 'liked' Ganguly? You need to understand this -- what I say is my opinion; I don't suggest it is the thing to do, as an absolute, but merely that it is what I think should be done.
Others have other views; they express them. We can debate, we can argue, we can discuss -- such debate after all is where much of the fun lies, for cricket fans. But when you dismiss a statement as stemming from personal bias for or against a particular player, you shut the door on debate. And that is a disservice.
It is a tragedy of the times, this tendency to browbeat others, to stifle honest opinion, by tainting it with bias. Did someone write an article criticizing a policy of the BJP? Oh, he is a pseudo-secularist Hindu-hater, we know it. Did someone suggest George Bush was wrong to go to war in Iraq? Must be because he is an unpatriotic Muslim-loving terrorist-supporter.
Really? Could it be because the writer is honest enough to voice his genuine opinions, even if they happen to be counter to the voice of the crowd?
'Bias' is a funny word, folks. Look at it this way -- assume I write a negative piece about a player. Assume you then turn around and say that is because I am biased. Is it not equally valid for me to assume that your anger stems from the fact that you are biased in favor of that player? And if both of us dismiss the other's opinion as stemming from bias, then what price discussion, whither debate?
In any case, I intend to write what I honestly think. I thought, though, that I would at the outset address this oft-asked question, and spell out my response; make of it what you will.


  • I think one of the reasons your columns evoke such reactions (apart from the tendency to generalize things on part of writers trying to flame you) is because your writing is a lot more opinionated than most other folks. I am not saying, its good or bad, but its definitely more opinionated in terms of reaching conclusions from certain facts and claiming them to be the absolute truth. Such pieces will always evoke - IMHO- stronger reactions. You have a knack of writing, and I like reading your columns. But, the opinions are not presented as "one way to look at the issue" but rather they are presented as absolute truth regarding the matter being discussed. There might have been ocassions that you haven't done that. Your blog being one where its more of a debate than columns. But thats the impression I have formed over last few years. I am not claiming it to be THE reason or only reason, but may be one of the factors!

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 18:31  

  • i have been reading REDIFF for several years now and i am sorry to say Faisal and you have been one of the most vocal detractors of Ganguly. It is all very well and acceptable if I could see the same level of "objectivity" and "I speak my mind and voice my opinon" applied to ALL players esp. SRT. I read your posts more for your command over the language than for any cricketing insights esp. wrt Ganguly and Indian captaincy. Dileep Premachandran is there always to give a balanced view :-)

    Of course, this is *my* opinion and what I think. ;-)

    By Anonymous chatura, at 20:34  

  • Exactly, even you are one of those who is objectivity personified when talking about anyone other than Sachin Ramesh Tendulkar. Let's face it. Tendulkar is way past his prime and is in the team primarily on his past records. But, people like you will never raise this issue. You have your favourite whipping boy in the Indian captain.


    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 00:46  

  • What I don' understand is why does Tendulkar has to be dragged back to the discussion every time someone writes something about Ganguly. ? Is it not possible to analyse Ganguly's records/achievement in isolation.
    Well,even if one compares Tendulkar's records to Ganguly , everyone can see that Sachin has a far better record even during recent times when he played inspite of the injury.

    By Blogger Gana, at 08:02  

  • certainly, ganguly deserves to be weighed and censured in isolation but it is but hard not to notice the reverence paid to the little champion and how the so called "objective" journalists pussyfoot when it comes to criticizing him. that said, i am no SRT basher - he just happens to be the most obvious example that comes to mind by the sheer number of pages written about him.

    anyway, the point i contend is the "pseudo-objectivity" of our sports journalists (hey, how does the term pseudo-objectivists sound? :P) and not whether SRT is less worthy or more worthy than anyone else.

    By Anonymous chatura, at 08:55  

  • Guys,

    Plz give Prem a break...this article was written in 2000..during the zamana of SRT and that hoodlum Azhar vying for the captaincy.

    I am surprised that Prem had such insight at that time..proves he is indeed a good analyst/journalist/commentator. Who would hav ethought at that time that Saurav would make a good captain. Prem alludes to hunger and openness of Saurav to be the captain -- no holier-than-thou-let-me-live-in-denial cr*p.

    I think it is wrong on our part to juxtapose today's situation with what Prem had written five years ago, people.


    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 09:10  

  • Its interesting that the support for Ganguly envokes such passionate responses from readers. Prem's views are his views and he has the right to say what he wants to. I remember that Prem had once said pick your best team first, then choose your captain. The way Saurav has been batting, he probably wouldnt even be picked for India A. India has some of the best players in the world, still they lose games in some unbelievable ways. The captain can only do so much. I think we focus a little too much on Saurav's skill as a captain. He can only do so much as a captain. His form on the other hand is something that needs to be addressed.

    By Anonymous Sundeep, at 09:24  

  • all right - shall sit back, wait and watch the dispassionate arguments about cricket, life and hopefully, the meaning of it all ;-)

    By Anonymous chatura, at 10:03  

  • Most people lack objectivity when it comes to analyzing their favorite players. They are emotionally attached to that players and feel obligated to defend at all costs.

    Without a doubt, like any successful CEO, Ganguly had a vision for this team and he did a very good job. He basically build this team, brought players together, handled media well and handled the Aussies well. Give credit to Ganguly where it is due.

    So what is next? Can Ganguly take the team to the next level? May be he can do it outside the field…but on the field, he is not able to lead from the front. Ganguly is 33 and not getting any younger. His reflexes compensated for his lack of batting technique. But age is catching up. How long a player can survive at the top level with inability to handle short-pitched deliveries and lack of technique against genuine fast bowling? Here is a guy who has almost nil strokes on the leg-side.

    Ganguly is the worst fielder in our team and he is totally naive about running between the wickets. These are facts and none of us can disagree with these facts. Ganguly for whatever reason did not make any amends to his lack of skills in the area of fielding and running between the wickets. These days, you got to play ‘total cricket’ to win matches (i.e., you got to field well…in addition you got to be able to either bowl and/or bat well). You can’t be good in one area and poor in all the other areas. Moving forward, even if Ganguly excels in batting…his lack of skills in other areas will continue to hurt the team. In addition, we are wasting talented cricketers like Yuv and Kaif.

    I look at Ganguly who was a successful CEO as one who was there to deliver a specific product/job and he did it. I feel he will not be able to deliver beyond that for the reasons mentioned above. Just because I said that I am not a Ganguly hater neither Prem is.

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 10:10  

  • Hi Prem,
    It was my post that you have mentioned in your blog and tried to clarify your stand on this issue. Thanks for that. Let me tell you very clearly that I have no problem of you or anyone else wanting Ganguly's removal NOW. In fact, I also think that after Wright, it's time for Ganguly to go and we should have a new captain-coach combo with some fresh ideas.

    But having said that, this doesn't change the fact the way REDIFF (you and Faisal to be precise) treated Ganguly over the years. Frankly, I don't even remember reading an exclusive Ganguly interview in the past few years when REDIFF has put up interviews of many current players. I have questioned you on this Ganguly issue in the past and you replied in the exact same fashion by providing links of one or two old columns. That's not the point Prem. You are completely missing it. If, in your own words, many people feel that you are biased against Ganguly, then may be you have given us enough reasons to believe it. In fact, if I remember correctly, even Ganguly is aware of this and during the WC or after that 144 in Brisbane, he made some comment about you to a REDIFF journalist.

    For those who think Prem has the right to express his opinion just like us, I am fine with it. But remember that he's a reputed journalist while we are not. If you think it's ok for Harsha Bhogle, Dileep Premchandran, G. Rajaraman or R. Mohan to be known as Pro-X player or anti-Y player, then Prem's comments should be taken just as a personal opinion. But I don't like to see a journalist biased for or against a particular player. IMO, that's not fair journalism.

    PS: I appreciate Prem for at least praising BCCI's efforts. Faisal, now part of Indian Express, didn't even bother to do that while he was crucifying BCCI on a daily basis prior to the coach selection process started.

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 11:33  

  • Dear (wo)man-with-no-name,

    I have to disagree with you. The rediff team has been among the most passionate, well informed, plugged set of guys. I do not see any kind of a bias in their coverage -- they are equal opportunity offenders and defenders!

    Prem is among the better lot of journos we have (and no, I'm not sucking up to him because this is HIS blog). Frankly, my opinion on the others is so-so. I'd say Rohit Brijnath, Sharda Ugra, Prem and Harsha Bhogle are among the better ones. We also have guys like Dr Ashish Nandy (who provides his own academic touch) and Ramachandra Guha (from my hometown, Blore) who are good authors (not journos). In fact, at times, Rajdeep Sardesai makes some good comments on cricket related issues too. But, Prem, to his defence, has not been pro-X or anti-Y. You know what you get with him. That's why I love his blog.


    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 11:48  

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