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Sight Screen

Friday, January 06, 2006

Sundries

1. So finally we know what kind of debate there was within the selection committee when it came to the question of whether to pick Tendulkar for the 1989 tour of Pakistan.
2. Speaking of knowing, with Viru Sehwag you never die wondering -- especially when it comes to his choice of opening partner. Earlier, when trial balloons were floated about the possibility of Akash Chopra being axed, Sehwag issued a stream of emphatic statements backing his partner. And now, ahead of a Pak tour where the team management faces the dilemma of including in the XI both Ganguly and an in-form Yuvraj Singh, and could conceivably be toying with the option of having one of them bat up front, the vice captain is at it again. 'I will open with Gambhir', says he. Yessir!
3. You remember the 'Spot the Difference' puzzles we get in our Sunday papers? Two pictures seemingly alike, with subtle differences between them that you had to identify? Right -- here's today's version: Spot the differences between story 1 and story 2.
Here's the thing I don't get: Sourav clearly did not give individual interviews. Both the stories are from agency wires, one from Reuters the other from PTI. Evidently, at the end of the day's play, the player spent a couple of minutes responding to agency stringers who were present at the Gardens, and spoke to them in the collective. So by what mysterious alchemy does one comment get morphed, in one media outlet, into 'clueless' and the other into 'upbeat'?
Here, from a journalist's perspective, is how it works. First, here is what actually happens:
Reporter: You scored 88, are you happy with your form?
Player: I have been in good form for some months now
Reporter: Is your form the result of your changed stance?
Player: That is just one of the things I am trying, players try out new things all the time.
Reporter: Do you think you are batting better today because you no longer have the burden of captaincy?
Player: I don't know. I never thought captaincy affected my batting.
End of interview. Problem being, you then have to go off and write the thing -- and since you don't want your paper to sound like every other paper, you have to find the angle. So, here goes:
Version 1: Sourav Ganguly, on the back of a fluent 88 against Tamil Nadu on a well-grassed Eden Gardens pitch, thumbed his nose at critics within the team and without, when he said his form was never in question. Ganguly, who was dropped from the national ODI team and, controversially, from the side that played the third Test against Sri Lanka reportedly at the behest of national coach Greg Chappell who queried both his form and commitment, said tersely 'I have been in form for some months now'...
Version 2: Deposed captain Sourav Ganguly today hinted that his being stripped of the captain's armband was unfair. Captaincy never affected his batting, the southpaw said on the back of an elegant 88 for Bengal against Tamil Nadu that contained his trademark drives and lofted strokes. In pointed words that indicated potential fireworks in the dressing room, Ganguly told reporters 'I have been in good form for some months now' -- a comment that assumes significance in light of the fact that his nemesis, Greg Chappell, has over the past few months raised questions about the player's form and fitness.
Version 3: Sourav Ganguly scored 88 for Bengal in the second innings on the heels of a half century in the first -- and then admitted he didn't have a clue what was triggering the apparent turnaround in his form. Speaking to the media, the former captain said he didn't know whether being relieved of captaincy was the reason. So could it be his changed stance? Ganguly wasn't sure of that either. 'It is just one of the things I am trying', the player, who despite his fluent batting in both innings, sounded stressed and under pressure, said.
Go on, try it for yourself -- I promise you, you'll never read a news story in quiet the same way again. :-)

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