It’s not often that you hear an Indian cricketer calling his own team-mate names. If such a freak incident does take place and it happens to be M.S. Dhoni, considered an epitome of equanimity, it’s shocking.
Dhoni’s behaviour while batting in the second T20 against South Africa at Centurion surprised many as he appeared to have used a cuss word against Manish Pandey with whom he put on a powerful partnership. The stump mic revealed that an angry Dhoni, clearly irritated by Manish’s running between the wickets, hurled an explicit: “Oye! Bho*** Idhar dekh le. Udhar kya dekh raha hai?!” The video went viral.
Despite knowing that they are being watched by millions of fans who consider them icons, cricketers tend to let off steam in full public view. A charged-up Virat Kohli swearing in Hindi has become customary during the celebrations after a wicket is taken.
It happens always
Those who follow Indian cricket closely, however, would tell you that it’s not a modern-day happening. In fact, players are more careful these days with the advent of technology and more cameras focussed on the field and stump microphones putting everyone on notice as the audio evidence is the first thing that crops up at disciplinary hearings. “Friendly jibes” and “casual cussing” are more restricted to dressing room conversations.
The temper of some former cricketers we notorious. Take Indian captain S. Venkataraghavan, for instance. He would explode at players, even at the extremely talented Gundappa Visvanath, if he felt they were failing to use their talent. Sometimes, he would yell at team mates for muffing catches on the field.
The Pakistan captain Imran Khan was another who yelled furiously at his teammates. He has been known to say vulgar things to provoke his juniors to try harder. Anil Kumble is another task master who can be severe on players under his command, but he is too much of a gentleman to let it descend to bad language.
Sanjay Manjrekar, in his latest book, Imperfect, reveals how he vented his frustration in the dressing room as his confidence began eroding during an Australian tour. “The first response was to take the frustration out in the dressing room. Often, I would blame those batting with me for my dismissals, especially in run-out situations. I would call them names to let off steam. I was told later to watch my language because whatever one said could get conveyed in a different way to the other person. It was an important lesson. The dressing room, although private, was still a very public space.”
The language can be blue in dressing rooms, but more often it has been known to be ribald. Thankfully, what happens in locker rooms, stays in locker rooms.
WHEN ICONS LOST THEIR COOL…
Kohli gives SCG fans the ‘bird’
Annoyed by crowd taunts, Kohli showed his middle finger to a section of crowd at the SCG during India’s tour of Australia in 2012. Kohli, however, justified his act and said he was provoked by the Aussies. “I agree cricketers don’t have to retaliate. What when the crowd says the worst things about your mother and sister. the worst I’ve heard,” Kohli had tweeted.
Wright held Sehwag by the collar
In an explosive moment in the Indian dressing-room during the NatWest Trophy in England in 2002, Virender Sehwag was grabbed by the collar by the then India coach John Wright for his reckless batting. Recalling the incident in his memoir, Indian Summers, Wright wrote, “'Not realising that my exasperation levels had soared into the red zone, I went up to him, grabbed him by the collar and barked: ‘What the hell’s going on?’”
Bhajji’s on-field tantrums
From Slapgate (slapping Sreesanth during an IPL match) to Monkeygate (involving Andrew Symonds), the former India off-spinner had his involvement in some of the biggest spats. He ended up in ugly verbal altercations with some of his own teammates and his on-field quarrel with Ambati Rayudu in an IPL match was a case in point.
Dhawan-Kohli dressing room showdown
It was widely reported that Shikhar Dhawan and Virat Kohli had a showdown in the dressing room during India’s tour of Australia in 2014. It was alleged that Kohli accused Dhawan of faking an injury and chickening out against facing Australian bowlers at the ’Gabba. Kohli who had to move up the order was dismissed cheaply and reportedly vented his anger on Dhawan. Skipper Dhoni, however, pooh-poohed the controversy saying ‘all izz well.’