Those were the days, when there used to be a camaraderie between cricketers and journalists. Cricketers understood the importance of being part of stories, for if not for people who cared to write, they would be toiling away in obscurity, far away from glitz and glamour. Similarly, for the journalists, cricketers were more than just an outlet providing an ever-flowing stream of content. The exchange was mutual. John Arlott’s proactive response to Basil D’ Oliveira’s letters asking for help to get out of apartheid-torn South Africa is still the apotheosis of cricket journalism. Things have changed since then, as the latest news involving Boria Majumdar and Wriddhiman Saha shows us.

The game got bigger, money was pumped in, sponsors swarmed around the cricket ground, and cricketers became hyper-conscious of their public persona. The innocence started to fade. The distance started to grow. Cricketers didn’t like their negative portrayal. And then came an internet era where ethics were dumped for easily clickable stories. 

The crack that was just about visible in the ’90s has now turned into a vast schism. And the Boria Majumdar-Wriddhiman Saha saga confirms this. 

For cricket fans of the ’90s, Boria’s words and voice have been a constant presence. Having penned many books, Boria was handed a responsibility to write Sachin Tendulkar’s autobiography. With a D.Phil from Oxford University, Boria never missed an opportunity to flaunt his impeccable academic record. Last year, When Alyssa Healy questioned BCCI’s decision to host the Women’s T20 Challenger during the Women’s Big Bash League, he got into a war of words with her on Twitter.

The intimidating texts are the last thing accomplished players like Saha would have expected from such an influential journalist. But again, it is the influence and clout that powered Boria to rely on these tactics.

It is important to ask whether Boria Majumdar would have even dared to talk to players like Rohit Sharma or Virat Kohli in such a condescending tone. Wriddhiman Saha is a legend in his own rights. Arguably the most gifted wicket-keeper in the country, he has represented India on 49 occasions, played over 100 IPL matches, and is also the first man to score a century in the IPL final. 

But sportspersons are often judged in binary. Their records are in the public domain, and there’s no middle ground between the best and the worst, the legend and the fraud, clutch players and the chokers. The entire fanbase feels they are entitled to mock and abuse a player for not standing up to their expectations every time he’s out on the field. Boria’s messages also stem from the same entitlement. 

The incident happened only a few days after Saha was dropped from the Test side. In the screenshot shared, Boria Majumdar seems to be implying that he is best suited to help Saha out at this moment. In return, there would be an interview. This has to be the most disturbing aspect of the chat. Here, an eminent journalist was trying to exploit and get content out of Saha’s hardships for his newly-established start-up, and to make it worse, he couldn’t handle being turned down. Normally, journalists move on if they don’t get a reply from their prospective interviewees. But in Boria’s case, this seems like an ego tussle.

No player is obliged to do an interview. No player deserves such a strong-worded reply for refusing one. The punishment meted out to Boria Majumdar by the BCCI is an acknowledgment of Wriddhiman Saha’s contribution to Indian cricket.