It wasn't too long ago when Indian cricketers Hardik Pandya and KL Rahul appeared on Koffee With Karan and were seen indulging, boastfully, in several sexist, racist and misogynistic conversations. Their disrespectful comments not only objectified women, but also hinted at a disturbing team culture. After the episode aired, all hell broke loose.
After the backlash on social media, Hardik apologised for his statements and said that he got 'carried away by the nature of the show'. However, it was too little too late as the Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) suspended the two cricketers and ruled them out of the ongoing ODI series against Australia as well as the whole New Zealand tour. The Indian cricket team shared their views on the issue, with Indian captain Virat Kohli dismissing the comments as individual opinion and not the team's. Other cricketers also spoke about it openly. Here's what they said.
Former Indian captain Rahul Dravid spoke to a media house about the controversy, reflecting that we should not overreact, but educate the team. He said, "It is not that players did not make mistakes in the past. It is not that mistakes will not be made in the future despite our best efforts to educate the youth. But let us not overreact please."
"Players come from different teams and their roles of responsibility need to be addressed. Issues will always be there and we have to educate and guide them. They should be told they can't abuse the system. I learnt from watching seniors in Karnataka from parents and coaches. They were my role models. No one sat me down and gave me a lecture. I observed and learnt. The best learning process happens in the dressing room from your seniors. But we should not overreact," Rahul 'The Wall' Dravid told The Hindu.
He went on to say that these incidents have happened in the past, too. "Today, it gets highlighted more, but I agree we need to keep mentoring them, educating them because challenges today are different on and off the field."
Indian cricket team captain Virat Kohli, at a press conference ahead of the first ODI against Australia in Sydney, was quoted saying, "We, as the Indian cricket team and responsible cricketers don't align with those views, those were individual opinions. We are still waiting for a decision to be made."
The young captain chose to disassociate the team from the controversy and said that it doesn't change anything in the change room. "You don't have control over these things so you have to address it the way it unfolds. That's how we are looking into it, the combinations will have to be looked at when the decision comes out and from there on, we'll see what needs to be done about the whole situation," Virat wrote on Twitter.
Former spinner for the Indian cricket team, Harbhajan Singh had a strong opinion about the comments that were made on the show. He told India Today, "We don't talk about all this even with our friends and they were talking on public television. Now, people might think was Harbhajan Singh like this, was Anil Kumble like this and even Sachin Tendulkar."
He agreed with the BCCI's decision to suspend the two and admitted that this should be the way forward for the team. "This was expected and I am not surprised," he added. In fact, he also expressed that he won't be comfortable having Pandya and Rahul around his wife and daughter, from now onward.
Former Indian batsman and currently a commentator, VVS Laxman asked the country to show some empathy to the players as they were getting rightly punished. "They are good human beings," Laxman told The Hindu.
He underlined the need for a mentor to help young cricketers handle their success and fame. "The role of mentorship is important here. People are watching you. Without your knowledge, you are influencing the next generation of cricketers."
Former Australia cricketer Allan Border sympathised with the Indian cricketers and told The Indian Express that he found the comments 'harmless'. "I haven't seen the episode, just read reports about it. It did seem little inappropriate what they were talking about, but I think the ban was a bit over the top."
He even spoke about the disadvantages of social media. "In this age of social media, things just go out of hand. I feel sorry for the young blokes, they've learnt a hard lesson. I think young sportsmen in this day and age, I suppose need to be media-trained because the slightest little thing can be blown out of proportion."
While Hardik and Rahul's careers hang in the balance, the BCCI's CoA (Committee of Administrators) is also mulling a behavioural counselling programme for the Indian team as they admitted to the need of grooming youngsters in the correct manner before they get overawed with the limelight that the sport offers. After all, we wouldn't want anyone else doing this ever again, would we?
The duo has only been given a provisional suspension for now. The full extension of their punishment, yet to be known by the ombudsman, will rest on the final decision of the CoA.
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