WC 2003 - Indians shun TV channels in protest of unfair comments

Published: Thursday, March 6, 2003, 23:55 [IST]
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Cape Town: India's World Cup squad is refusing to give interviews to two television channels in protest at what it calls unfair comments by some commentators.Sony Max, which is beaming live pictures to millions of viewers in India, and ESPN-Star, which hosts a daily talk show on cricket's showpiece, have earned the wrath of Saurav Ganguly's men.The Indians were livid when they heard that former Test opener Krish Srikkanth, asked on Sony Max if Ganguly should bat at number 1 or 4, shot back: "He should bat at number 14".

The team is also angry at comments made by another former opener Navjot Sidhu on ESPN-Star after India crashed to a nine-wicket defeat against champions Australia."The players are not saying they should never be criticised, but the criticism should be balanced," a team official said. "We were being talked of as the worst team in the world after we lost to Australia. Some even said the players were not trying their best."That was very unfair. We lost to the world champions. No team has beaten them so far.

And we have won everything after that. The problem is these remarks are taken so seriously by viewers, they believe everything that is said."Kenyan coach Sandeep Patil, preparing his team for Friday's Super Sixes clash at Newlands, was equally perturbed by an unnamed commentator's remarks."Some commentator has made nasty remarks about us in the World Cup, saying other teams will lick us like candy," the former Indian batsman said."Now I am carrying candy that I will give to him to lick.

"Kenya, a non-Test playing nation, qualified for the Super Sixes after a shock win over Sri Lanka and four bonus points when New Zealand refused to play in Nairobi for security reasons.Angry fans burnt effigies of Ganguly and threatened violence against families of the players after India were shot out for their lowest World Cup total of 125 by Australia on February 15.Sony Max, which reportedly shelled out $ 350 million to beam the event live in India, was so worried at the threat by players to boycott the channel it forced Srikkanth to apologise to Ganguly.

"Srikkanth did call up Ganguly and told him he was just joking on air, but I don't think the joke went down very well with the captain," the official said.Two weeks ago, India's pace spearhead Javagal Srinath blamed ex-players turned television commentators for inciting fans back home to rubbish the current team."The attitude of these ex-stars is very disappointing," Srinath said.

"In fact, the unhappy incidents after our defeat in the match against Australia can be attributed to their comments.""They appear to have made it a habit to slam the present team, it must be doing wonders for the ratings. But I hope these commentators realise they will face the same pressure if their sons took up the game and played for India.Copyright AFP 2001

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