The cliché is true. Cricket is a religion in our country. And the cricketers are its gods. Fans worship you when you win, and burn your effigies when you don't. And in this digital age, they even hound you on social media for your poor performance.
A lot is expected from Indian cricketers. A lot of money is spent on them. A lot of emotions are attached to the sport. And when they fail to deliver, they face the brunt.
The media, louder than ever, pose difficult questions before Indian cricketers who do not want to answer them but they do, anyway. Often, the media is terribly wrong to even think of asking the question. But often, even if it's a relevant question, the cricketers choose not to answer.
Here's a list of such questions and the times when the cricketers of our country refused to answer journalist's questions. And sometimes, rightly so.
#1 Virat Kohli on team selection
As Indian cricketers surrendered themselves to the lethal South African bowling and lost the second Test by 135 runs, it was Virat Kohli who was visibly angry when a journalist asked him about the team selection and the constant shuffling of the line-up during a post-match press conference.
Here's the conversation:
Journalist: Talking about you not coming together well makes me think it’s because of the team selection. In 30 Tests you have captained you have changed the line-up in almost each and every Test that you played and I think you would know that to win Test matches you also need a little bit of consistency or rather a lot of consistency and you guys have been lacking that consistency. What would you put that down to? And how would you basically say that you guys will continue changing your team and still expect a different result?
Virat Kohli: How many Test matches have we won out of 30?
Journalist: How many have you changed the starting line-up?
Virat Kohli: How many have we won? How many have we won?
Journalist: How many have you changed the line-up for?
Virat Kohli: 21 wins, two losses. How many draws?
Journalist: How many in India?
Virat Kohli: It doesn’t matter. Wherever we play, we try to do our best. I’m here to answer your questions man, not to fight with you.
After a moment, Kohli got back to the same journalist and asked, "how many times South Africa came close to winning games in India, can you count"?
#2 Mahendra Singh Dhoni on retirement
Dhoni had walked in just after India were ousted from the ICC World Twenty20, losing their semi-final to the West Indies in 2016. He had expected some tough question, including a definite one on his retirement. But coming from Ferris, a foreign journalist working for cricket.com.au, Dhoni chose what some will call bravado, inviting Ferris onto the dais.
It was a perfectly legitimate question and one Dhoni expected and was prepared with an answer for, which the following transcript of the conversation suggests.
Ferris: MS, you have achieved almost everything. Do you look to continue playing after this tournament?
Dhoni: Come here, let's have some fun. Please come here. Come, come, come...seriously! Yeah, come!
Do you want me to retire?
Ferris: No. That's what I asked you.
Dhoni: I was hoping it was an Indian media guy, because I can't really say if you have a brother or a son who can play for India.
Do you think I am unfit?
Dhoni: You have seen me running?
Ferris: Very fast.
Dhoni: Do you think I can survive till the 2019 World Cup?
Ferris: Yes, sure.
Dhoni: Then you have answered the question. Thank you, sir! I wish it was an Indian media guy, because then I would have asked if he has a son who is old enough and a wicketkeeper to play. He would have said 'No'. Then I would have said maybe a brother who can play, who is a wicketkeeper. You fired the wrong ammunition at the wrong time.
#3 Mithali Raj on her favourite male cricketer
Indian women's cricket team captain Mithali Raj won our hearts when she shut down a reporter for asking her a sexist question. During a press conference before the ICC Women's World Cup 2017, Raj was asked to name her favourite male cricketer.
"Do you ask them who their favourite female cricketer is?"
"I have always been asked who's your favourite cricketer but you should ask them who their favourite female cricketer is," Mithali questioned the reporter.
— Adam Collins (@collinsadam) June 22, 2017
#4 Kapil Dev on match fixing
During an interview with Karan Thapar for the show, Hardtalk India, the Haryana Hurricane broke down inconsolably when asked about allegations of having made money and fixing matches. A teary-eyed Kapil Dev said, "I will commit suicide rather than take a bribe. Who wants money. Take all my money. I come from a family where pride is more important than anything else."
When asked about former cricket board chief Inderjit Bindra's claim on TV that allrounder Manoj Prabhakar had told him that Kapil Dev had offered him Rs.25 lakh for under performing in a one-day international in Sri Lanka, the current Indian coach said that these were all "third party allegations". "I am sick of third party allegations," he said adding "please for God's sake become the first party and say what happened. I feel ashamed that I played cricket." He added these "wild allegations" had spoiled his life and all the credibility he had achieved in over two decades of service to the game had gone down the drain.
#5 Yuvraj Singh on Virat Kohli replacing MS Dhoni as captain
Yuvi was attending an event at the Virat Kohli Foundation in Mumbai in 2016 when he was asked to comment on the speculation that the Indian limited-overs captaincy was to be taken over by Virat Kohli from the then captain MS Dhoni. Yuvraj promptly avoided the question by saying that he was there to talk about the event, not about cricket. Later taking to Twitter to express his views on his "angry" gesture towards the media. He went ahead and even asked the media house’s official Twitter handle what wrong did he say. Replying to the tweet, Yuvi clarified that he was just being professional, and was not angry.
to kya galat bola ji I'm here to to talk about the event not cricket !not angry at all just being professional! Kuch bhi — yuvraj singh (@YUVSTRONG12) June 6, 2016
Sourav Ganguly who delivered a speech on "Leadership Insights from Leading the Indian Cricket Team" at the annual Business Summit, Intaglio at IIM Calcutta in 2013 took several hilarious digs at the Indian media.
During the event someone asked the former skipper, "You'd always come to lead India in difficult times, let's say suppose now, hypothetical situation, that 3 months later you'll be the Indian national coach.
Ganguly: You're reading the papers a lot.
Person: I've two questions for you. Firstly, will you be the national coach of that hypothetical sitation? Second, how would you, now you said that you do not have the Tendulkar Dravid Kumble, how will this leadership be different from what you had earlier?
Ganguly: Firstly, I don't think I'll get the job. So I don't think further, let me get the job and then I'll probably start thinking of what will I do.
There's a term in Bengali, "Gaanche kathal gonfe tel" before the fruit is in the tree, don't think of eating it. So I will wait for that opportunity.
Now the second question. What happens when I get that opportunity. And before I give an answer to that, there are press people here. So don't write that in tomorrow's morning papers. I don't want people to think that Sourav Ganguly is wanting that job. If it's a promise then, first get their promise then I'll give you the answer. Because I know it'll be reported tomorrow morning, front page - Ganguly Gives The Medicine For India's success. The headline will start with -Ganguly Gives The Medicine For India's success... and it'll be finishing with ...He Doesn't Have Any Job, He's Desperate For A Job.