Kolkata: ‘Journo-gate?’ This is probably how the Indian cricket fans will remember the unsavoury exit of Indian wicketkeeper-batter Wriddhiman Saha from Test cricket after a career marked with resilience and character.
It must be the biggest irony of sorts that Saha, known as the quiet performer and used to waiting in the wings for most part of an international career spanning over a decade, had been in the news for all the wrong reasons since he was dropped along with three other senior members of the Test set-up against Sri Lanka last Saturday. Let’s face it - Ajinkya Rahane, Cheteshwar Pujara and Ishant Sharma have been far more heavyweight names than Saha but they had also got the chop at one sweeping decision.
The weekend was a dramatic one when in a series of interviews to the local as well as national media, Saha revealed the new head coach Rahul Dravid called him aside for a one-to-one chat during the South Africa tour where the latter made it quite clear that the team management was looking beyond him with an eye towards the future. In a momentary lapse of reason, he also insinuated that the BCCI President Sourav Ganguly apparently told him ‘not to worry’ as long as Dada was at the helm - though the assurance looked more a manner of speaking as retaining someone on the team was certainly not in Ganguly’s brief.
The same day, Saha sent out a tweet with a screen grab of an exchange of whatsapps between him and a ‘respected journalist’ - as he referred to without taking his name - for not obliging to give an interview. ‘‘I don’t take insults kindly - and I will remember this,’’ the journalist threatened Saha - sparking off a frenzy about the identity of the media professional. When last heard, the BCCI had promised a probe into the identity of the journalist but Saha has now made it clear that he is not going to pursue his allegations further.
With the benefit of hindsight, one must admit that whoever had been advising Saha has certainly done more harm to him than good. There have been any number of instances in Indian or world cricket where captaincy has changed hands or time-tested performers have been dropped without any form of decency - and this is an anomaly that Dravid had chosen to address when he spoke his mind to Saha. Grilled by the media after their 3-0 T20 series win against the West Indies, Dravid was transparent about the issue - saying he didn’t want Saha to hear about the team management’s plans from the media.
Meanwhile, Saha’s not-so-subtle dig at Ganguly has also not gone down well in his own state association, whose secretary Snehasish Ganguly (the former India captain’s elder brother) said such a personal conversation should not have come out in the media.
It’s tough to be in Saha’s shoes, to let it sink in that the international career is now sealed for good. Pushing 38, he still has a lucrative contract with the new IPL franchise Gujarat Titans and given his fitness behind the stumps and the experience to open the batting in IPL, Saha may have a good two seasons of cricket left in him.
If he has to remain a part of the Indian cricketing ecosystem, he has to grit this teeth and do what he does best. Otherwise, the world will move on without him!