The Indian Cricketers’ Association (ICA) on Tuesday ‘strongly condemned’ the threatening message sent to veteran wicketkeeper-batter Wridhimann Saha by a journalist and welcomed the BCCI’s decision to probe the issue.
The 37-year-old tweeted a screenshot of messages from a journalist on Saturday, a little after he was excluded from India’s Test squad for the forthcoming two-match Test series against Sri Lanka.
“After all of my contributions to Indian cricket…this is what I face from a so-called ‘Respected’ journalist! This is where journalism has gone,” Saha wrote on Twitter along with the screenshot.
The issue escalated after former players like Ravi Shastri, Parthiv Patel and Virender Sehwag, among others, joined in the criticism of the said journalist. The BCCI subsequently decided to get to the bottom of the issue with treasurer Arun Dhumal saying that secretary Jay Shah will speak to the veteran wicketkeeper.
The ICA has now requested Saha to reveal the journalist’s name and also urged the BCCI to take the strictest action.
“We acknowledge the fact that the media plays a very important role both in the growth of our game and the players but there’s always a line that must never be crossed. What has happened in Saha’s case is totally unacceptable and we call for the respective press organisations to take up the matter and ensure such things are not repeated,” said ICA President Ashok Malhotra in a statement.
“At the ICA our foremost concern is the welfare of cricketers, past and present, and we cannot accept such behaviour from anyone let alone a journalist. We are with Saha and request him to reveal the journalist’s name. Should the BCCI feel the need to cancel the erring journalist’s accreditation and access to any BCCI event, we will fully support the move,” he added.
ICA Secretary Hitesh Majumdar also offered full support to Saha, saying that no player should be subjected to such ‘threats’ from anyone in the media or elsewhere.
“We would offer our full support to Saha at this juncture. No player should be subjected to such ‘threats’ from anyone in the media or elsewhere. We urge the media also to come out in support of Saha and ensure that these sorts of issues don’t crop up again,” said Hitesh Majumdar, the ICA Secretary. “Any interaction between a player and the media has always to be voluntary,” he said.
Meanwhile, Saha has said that he will not reveal the name of the journalist to the BCCI, as and when the cricket board communicates with him over his tweet that has become arguably Indian cricket’s biggest talking point at the moment.
It was reported on Monday that the BCCI would ask the wicketkeeper-batsman to reveal the identity of the journalist who purportedly sent a string of WhatsApp messages to the cricketer, demanding an interview.
“I haven’t received any communication from the BCCI yet. If they ask me to reveal the name (of the journalist), I would tell them it was never my intention to harm somebody’s career, to pull a person down. That’s why I didn’t reveal the name in my tweet. That’s not the teaching of my parents. The main purpose of my tweet was to expose the fact that there’s someone in the media who does such things, disrespecting a player’s wish,” Saha told The Indian Express.
“It wasn’t fair, which I wanted to tell through my tweets. He who has done it knows it very well. I posted those tweets because I didn’t want the players to face such things. I wanted to convey the message that what has been done was wrong and no one else should do it again,” he added.
The veteran keeper also mentioned that he is not retiring from cricket in near future.
“I play cricket because of my love for the game. As long as that is there, I will not hang up my boots. It doesn’t matter whether I’m being considered for the Indian team or my state team or my IPL side. As long as I’m enjoying the game, I will play. I won’t mind calling time on my career through club and office cricket,” Saha said.