Deciphering cricket with Boria Majumdar

Sports journalist, sports commentator, and author of several books on Indian sports, Boria Majumdar was in Goa for the 2019 edition of Goafest. NT GoGoaNow caught up with Boria to talk cricket.



This year’s IPL has seen matches go on till midnight. The slow over rates are affecting fans and journalists. Comment

The most important constituency of the game is its fans. If a fan has to struggle to return home at 1 a.m. in the morning by paying four times the money for transport, if a journalist cannot write the match report as the deadline is over and his morning edition is gone, and the broadcaster cannot sell his inventory, it is unfair on them.

Firstly, the BCCI has to play a greater role. There are two things that can be done. You can start matches at 7 p.m. and finish by 11.30 p.m. Secondly, penalising the erring captain on the basis of net run rate (NRR). If the penalisation is done by cutting down match fees the franchise will pay it off. If you want to hurt them use the NRR (net run rate) option. Eventually, when it comes down to the playoffs the NRR plays a very crucial role. Whatever the call is, this should be stopped.


Comment on the umpiring standards at the ongoing IPL.

There is doubt over the umpiring standards, and it looks substandard. Maybe it is time to invoke technology, like VAR (Video Assistant Referee) and goal-line technology as used in football. This may not be a 100 percent solution but it can be worked on.


How do you look at ‘mankading’ and does it question the credibility of sportsmanship given the recent incident in the IPL?

There are two ways to look at it, is ‘mankading’ legal? Yes it is, if you strictly go by the rules of the game. But if you go by the spirit of the game and, we all believe that cricket is different from other sports- it is because of the ‘spirit of the game’, that it is called the gentleman’s sport, then it seems like unsporting behaviour.

If you ask me by personal choice I would not have done it and someone of the stature of Ravichandran Ashwin may not have done it. Ultimately sport is not only about winning and losing but it is also about winning hearts, entertaining and playing it ‘within the spirit of the game’. Ashwin was not out of his rights to do it, but in terms of his legacy and as a role model for future generations who are aspiring to be like him, he may not have done it.


How do you see BCCI’s decision to give Rahul Dravid the charge of National Cricket Academy (NCA)?

There is no one better than Rahul Dravid to take the charge of NCA to guide the young crop of Prithvi Shaw’s, Shubman Gill’s, Rishab Pant’s and Mayank Markande’s. Rahul Dravid will bring in structure, vision and discipline. And he himself has been an outstanding role model throughout his playing days.


Recently we have witnessed the KL Rahul– Pandya incident and the sandpaper gate involving Australian cricketers, how can respective cricket boards handle situations like these?

You got to be hard on them as they are role models and they have a job to do. It is also the job of the respective cricket boards to be constructive in such matters as they are young men. KL and Hardik lost 30 lakhs as they didn’t play those matches. They were shamed and humiliated by everyone and the same goes with Warner and Smith. We all have committed mistakes at some point in our lives and for that, we have been penalised in some or the other way and moved on. The only truth about human beings is that they make mistakes and learn. KL and Hardik are young people who have suffered and also learnt their lessons and moved on.


The new edition of ‘Eleven Gods and Billion Indians’, was launched recently with four new chapters. Can you tell us about why you chose this title for the book? Also, what’s in the four chapters?

It is the truth, cricketers are the eleven gods and we are the billion Indians. It is we who have made them these eleven gods. Virat Kohli once told me something interesting: “You have called us eleven gods but when we lose, the same people call us the reversal of god.” Unfortunately, that’s the story in India as we react with extreme passion. They are our role models. They are the people representing the country, giving us joy and entertainment everyday and they are placed at the pedestal, that’s why the name.

The new paperback edition features four new chapters. These are on Virat Kohli’s legacy over the last year and a half as the captain; If India can win the World Cup given the performance; on the Hardik Pandya and KL Rahul controversy and what that tells you about cricket; and about role models, the responsibilities and the pressure that cricketers go through.


You’ve also co-authored Sachin Tendulkar’s autobiography ‘Playing It My Way’. Tell us about that experience.

It is Sachin’s book in Sachin’s words. The idea was to tell Sachin’s story to his fans in the way he wants to. So I had to keep my intellectual ego at the check and get into his mind. Sachin’s story in his words was a challenge because you have to understand who Sachin is, respect him, keep in mind his legion of fans and just do the job. And I have tried to do it to the best of my ability.