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Diplomat to dynamite

Feb. 7: At different times after becoming captain 16 months ago, Rahul Dravid could have passed off as a member of India’s diplomatic corps.

The one difference, perhaps, being not keeping late nights.

This afternoon, however, Dravid took off his gloves to present a face which hadn’t been seen before.

Not in public, at least.

The provocation was the revelation by a TV channel, claiming to draw on a “confidential” report from Chetan Desai (manager during the Test series) to board president Sharad Pawar, that (among other things) Greg Chappell and Virender Sehwag had a row in South Africa.

It’s not a leaked email this time, but potentially very damaging.

The extent may not be gauged at this point in time, but it certainly touched a raw nerve in Dravid.

So much so that he exploded at a media conference where the agenda ought exclusively to have been on the four-match ODI series which gets under way at the Eden tomorrow.

The Sri Lankans, of course, must be delighted at the timing of the story and Dravid’s uncharacteristic response.

But, then, Dravid is a traditionalist who believes all intra-team matters must remain within the dressing room.

He could also have gone ballistic after being frustrated by the board’s unprofessional approach on appointing managers.

“First of all, I have not seen the report. I can only say there is no problem in the team. It’s important to put it in perspective and understand that I’ve been asked to give my views on a report by someone (else)….

“When I last looked at the history of Indian cricket, I didn’t necessarily see his name featuring very prominently. Maybe, I’ll go back and look again,” he said acerbically.

Dravid tore into the questioner as well. “When I’m asked questions regarding comments and opinions of people, I expect you to ask questions about people who have at least played the game or have some standing or have been involved with the game in some capacity.”

“Anybody is entitled to give his opinion, anyone is entitled to give a report… I will comment when it’s worthy of my comment…”

Dravid got one fact wrong, though: Desai has been with the Goa Cricket Association for years and Goa is staging the third ODI (February 14).

Desai declined to react -- both on the TV channel’s story and Dravid’s outburst.

“I haven’t spoken to anybody in the media and don’t intend offering a comment to you,” was his curt response when contacted by The Telegraph.

Intriguingly, when the issue came up at today’s working committee meeting in New Delhi, Pawar told members he hadn’t received any communication from Desai!

Going by convention, reports by managers are marked to the president and he may not disclose the contents to fellow office-bearers and/or working committee members.

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