How The Cricketer manipulated social media for his own ends

Image: Joy Sengupta

The athlete is always right because he is an athlete. An Indian reality.

For days and months, I sought validation. I tried to make people understand that what was in the public domain was not the truth. There was another side to it, my side, which should have been heard at that point. Entire articles and opinion pieces were written even in well-respected dailies without asking for a response from me. Public sympathy was not in my favour. The Cricketer who had represented the national team for over a decade, was always more powerful than I on social media. His narrative would naturally find mass acceptance. Needless to say, I never had a chance. National-team players in India are demi-gods. So, when he came out against me in public alleging that I had threatened him, my truth was quickly turned around. That he did not take my name in public did not help my case—if anything, it gave the whole episode more fuel and fire when there started a frantic guessing game over who it could be. He did, of course, give my name to the committee, and convinced them that he was feeling ‘unsafe’, so much so that he had come to the airport (to make the trip to depose before the committee in a different car from his own, and that he feared for his future.


I last spoke to the man on February 13, 2022, when I congratulated him after an Indian cricket franchise bought him at that year’s auction, a week before he posted my WhatsApp messages on social media. Why did he allow a week to pass before he posted those messages on social media? And, how was I (and not anybody else) responsible for his or his family’s subsequent mental trauma, as he had claimed before the committee? We had known each other well over a decade. On what basis could anybody say that I had engineered his trauma days after I had sent him my last WhatsApp messages, and why wasn’t that statement questioned?

I have not survived in my profession of journalism for over two decades by threatening and bullying people, and still less players and athletes who I consider national treasures. A middle-class Bengali with a set of values I live by, and a young daughter almost the age of The Cricketer’s own child. How could I be held responsible for anybody else’s feelings of insecurity or any rumours that he might have heard about losing his place within the national cricket set-up? In fact, that it will happen was written by another journalist and not me. I did not have any contact with him after February 13 and I certainly did not float those rumours. How could someone get away with such a preposterous suggestion? And how was it believed? Justice?