-by KParthasarathi Saturday, December 01, 2007
There is consternation among the selectors when BCCI gave its diktat that the dressing room is henceforth out of bounds for them. Some of them are even toying with the idea of quitting. The reason behind the board’s action could be that once the team is selected, the team management takes over with no place for selector(s) to poke their noses and throw their weight around on who plays, in what order and how the game is to be played. It is a very sound decision when one keeps in mind the adage of too many cooks spoiling the broth.
I have always assumed in my ignorance that these are like rest rooms with attached baths for the players to change their sweaty and smelly uniforms after a shower. With fourteen players in the team it should naturally be a crowded place with everyone jostling against the other in the limited space and with media, sponsors, and celebrities trying to get a peep into the much sought after room.
I had assumed that no serious business would be done in such a place till the recent order and I have realized that a dressing room means much more than a trial room in a mall or washing room in an airport. It is here that many secrets are buried as in the bottom of a pyramid. It is in this mystery- filled room that real action takes place more than what is displayed on the ground by the players.
The golden rule is that what goes on in the dressing room stays in the dressing room. This unwritten understanding that the secrets of a dressing room should never go out is breached once in a while with the connivance of the players or the coach or the official of the board who manages the show. Otherwise who would have known that an English captain was fully drunk when he came to practice if a mate had not spilt what he had seen in the dressing room? We would not have known about the spat that Afridi had with another player when Asif intervened only to be hit by the bat used as a club. Even a janitor tells that she saw the late Woolmer counting wads of notes in the dressing room. But some secrets are well kept like why Dravid relinquished his captaincy at the peak of his career and who and what provoked him to take such an extreme step. The mother of all juicy revelations was the public spat between the coach and dada. Ganguly and Greg reportedly had an argument in the dressing room in which Greg suggested Ganguly to step down since he was not in good form and even the team fared poorly under him. The secrecy was breached in this case and their spat was all out in the open. What followed later is public knowledge with Ganguly losing captaincy but managing to retain his place in the team.
To prevent fresh controversies, the board has given strict instructions to the members of the Indian team not to leak the happenings in the dressing room and team meetings. With the selectors also kept out, the chances of the public knowing what happens inside the dressing room have become dim.
But then dressing room is a place where young colts are broken. In any bunch of players one could observe some are jolly characters given to fun and frolic, some talented in singing, playing drums or guitars, some cerebral working out the mysteries of D&L formula or reading books, and some morose and self centred.An assorted group from diverse regions brought up in different backgrounds and with different educational attainments, they are bound by the common thread of representing the country in the game. There are always a few who keeps the others on a high in the dressing room with their antics, music or even chats. Professional jealousy, varying media attention and fluctuating opportunities to be in the playing eleven keep the players tense although outwardly they may appear chummy. But being in the squad for long periods brings no doubt the feeling of togetherness and camaraderie.
It is here the big decisions affecting the course of the matches are taken by team management and not all of them can be made public knowledge. Certain privacy is conducive to the conduct of the game and to the bonding of young players though unfair methods, parochialism, ganging up against an individual player or two, illegal stuff like betting, wrecking the game as a spite against the captain or for personal glory, indiscipline are things to be brought to board’s attention and even public domain.