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Sanjay Manjrekar: ‘We had a Sunday Club where players, journalists partied together, but times have changed’

Following Wriddhiman Saha episode, we ask Sanjay Manjrekar his take on the player-media dynamic in Indian cricket.

February 24, 2022 / 04:50 PM IST
Wriddhiman Saha received widespread support after he shared the messages on Twitter.

Wriddhiman Saha received widespread support after he shared the messages on Twitter.

As a former player and current mediaperson, Sanjay Manjrekar is in the right position to comment on the recent incident involving Wriddhiman Saha and an Indian journalist.

The journalist in question was offended when Saha did not take his call and ignored his interview request. He then sent angry messages to Saha, which have been construed by some as threats to the player’s career.

Also read: At least, Wriddhiman Saha was shown some courtesy

Moneycontrol sought Manjrekar’s views on the episode, as well as the changing player-press dynamic in Indian cricket.

“On the Saha thing, I don’t want to comment because I don’t have a thorough understanding of that particular incident,” Manjrekar said.

When told that lack of access to Indian players sometimes forces journalists to bend rules, Manjrekar said, “Access has always been a problem. It has gotten worse now, with security and everything. Earlier, players had a relationship with journalists. I mean we had a Sunday Club in Pakistan where journalists were partying with the players, so times have changed. Because the players don’t need a journalist anymore to air their thoughts on a platform. I feel journalists need to reinvent. With Twitter and other things, the need (for journalists, from a player’s standpoint) isn’t there as much.”

Manjrekar, who played over a 100 international matches (Tests and ODIs) for India, gave an insight into how players judge press people, when asked what type of journalists he gave access to in his playing days.

“What impressed me about a journalist was to see a genuine passion for the game and coming to do an interview for the right cause,” Manjrekar said. “Wanting to know about me, or cricket, or some aspect of the game. And I only looked for somebody who had that kind of purity and passion. Anybody who was looking for some kind of controversy, those were the ones we avoided.”

Further on, the 56-year-old said, “It took a while for us to start trusting a journalist. If there was a senior player who already had a good relationship with a journalist, that helped us to trust that journalist.”

Manjrekar then shifted focus to the role of journalists in the current era. For many years, it has been a trend for media organisations to engage former players to write expert columns. But with TV, OTT and social media platforms, ex-players now have more lucrative avenues to share their expertise on. He feels this is an opportunity for professional journalists to write analytical articles.

“I always believed journalists should be guys giving opinions, be sharp readers of the game or issues,” Manjrekar said. “As cricketing experts are not writing as much, because there is bigger money elsewhere, the cricketer columnists are dwindling. That is where I think journalists who are not perceived as experts but have a good understanding of the game can come in.”

Akshay Sawai
first published: Feb 24, 2022 04:47 pm