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Since 1st March, 1999
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Gag or not, players are terrified
Sachin Tendulkar and Yuvraj Singh have been booked

Calcutta: Days after gagging those who play for Team India, except the captain, the Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) has done another somersault.

Somersault No.1 was on limiting individual endorsements.

Interacting with the Media in New Delhi on Wednesday, vice-president (East) Rajeev Shukla said: “It is wrong to say that we are trying to stop the players from talking. We have no intention of gagging the players. They may always talk on issues other than on the team, its performance and teammates. That won’t be in the right spirit.”

Last Saturday, however, BCCI treasurer N. Srinivasan had (among other things) announced: “No player shall have exclusive contracts with the electronic or print Media. Only the captain can write a column or talk to the Media, but not exclusively.”

Not that the captain having permission to write a column which wasn’t exclusive made much sense, but Srinivasan wasn’t at all ambiguous about the BCCI’s policy.

Having been a part of the Media, Shukla (now a Rajya Sabha member) may have convinced president Sharad Pawar to have a rethink, but gag or not, the players are well and truly terrified.

Not so much because of that announcement, but the showcause served on the iconic Sachin Tendulkar and a future captain, Yuvraj Singh.

As The Telegraph has learnt, hardly anybody wishes to interact, not even off the record.

Forget seniors, even those who weren’t part of Team India’s disastrous World Cup campaign are reluctant, lest the BCCI sleuths link them to comments which show the Establishment in poor light.

Or, take some more sheen off Greg Chappell, who did his bit to leave behind an unhappy and insecure dressing room.

It’s anybody’s guess how such an environment can encourage good cricket.

Anil Kumble has been lucky

While Sachin has been asked to explain remarks directed at the then coach, Yuvraj has to show cause for backing him.

Strangely, at around the same time, Anil Kumble got away with pro-Sachin comments.

If Yuvraj said “we’ve always been with Sachin and will continue to stand by him,” Kumble was more aggressive: “Ian Chappell has got nothing to do with Indian cricket. Of course, everybody is entitled to his opinion, but Ian is not going to win matches for India… Sachin has been doing that for us and we should be supporting him.”

Kumble went ballistic (on TV) after the elder Chappell suggested that Sachin retire. The star leggie also didn’t have positive things to say about the younger Chappell’s style of coaching.

Perhaps, the BCCI mandarins forgot that Kumble has only quit ODIs!

Given the confused manner in which most work, they are probably under the impression he has joined the league of former India players.

There can’t be any other explanation, otherwise why would Yuvraj alone be taken to task' Or, is it that somebody wants to fix him real hard'

Surely, given the mood, Kumble wouldn’t be too keen to correct any impression.

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