Are we missing Harsha Bhogle's commentary?
Legendary batsman, Sachin Tendulkar had just finished playing his last Test inning’s at Lord’s and Geoffrey Boycott commented, “Sachin maybe a great batsman but he has never been on the Lords honours boards!”. To this, an Indian commentator replied, “So whose loss is it more, Sachin’s or the honours board’s?”.
So whose loss is it more, Harsha’s or Cricket’s?
That Indian commentator was none other than Harsha Bhogle - a man whose voice has been synonymous with Indian cricket for more than two decades now. Despite being from a non-cricketing background, he has made it big in the world of commentators. Acknowledging this fact he had said, “I am a kid who played university cricket, so to be around international cricket is a blessing.“
He might consider it as a blessing, but his fans would say that they feel equally blessed to hear his voice on the actions of twenty-two men in and around twenty-two yards of a cricket pitch.
Unfortunately, he has been missing from the commentator’s box in this Indian home season. The fans have definitely missed his commentary and if I would be to give a response in a la-Harsha style - So whose loss is it more, Harsha’s or Cricket’s?
It’s like watching Sachin Tendulkar play gully cricket
Take the case of the ongoing Anthony De Mello Trophy between India & England, in what has been an otherwise perfect series for the Indians; we all have somewhere missed Harsha Bhogle’s commentary.
We would all have liked to hear him on air when KL Rahul got out on 199 or his views on James Anderson’s comments on Virat Kohli? Yes, he has been voicing his opinion on social media platforms and Cricbuzz. But that’s like watching Sachin Tendulkar play gully cricket.
Been missing in action since the IPL 2016
Harsha Bhogle has been missing from the commentary team since this year’s IPL when he was informed about the termination of his contract just a week before the start of the tournament. Back then nobody gave the specifics about the reason for his ouster and till today fans are wondering when will they get to a hear the voice which had made viewing cricket more enjoyable.
Harsha had himself been surprised at the decision to drop him from the IPL commentary team. He had said, “No one told me anything. I have not been formally told of the reason even now. All I have been told is ‘it is a BCCI management decision’.”
People familiar with the way things work in the BCCI would not have been surprised as transparency & BCCI are two words which do not go well together. Make no mistakes; I fully acknowledge the role that BCCI has played in getting Indian cricket to the level that it has reached today, but sadly “A Transparent BCCI” has been an oxymoron so far.
Once, in response to his commentary’s criticism, he had said, “I remember, as a young man, listening to radio broadcasts of matches India played overseas, and occasionally watching highlights on a TV in a neighbour's house, and being very hurt at the fact that they focussed almost entirely on their own players. It was something that stayed in my mind long before I dreamt that I could be a commentator.”
Yes, his commentary was unbiased. But at the same time, he did not mind giving it back to the commentators of other countries whenever it was required.
Fans would recall his response to Nasser Hussain when the former English skipper had asked that when can he expect to see India playing a football World Cup. Harsha, taking a jibe at England’s recent poor World Cup record had responded, “It’s better not to participate rather than getting knocked out in the first round.”
Cricket cannot afford to hold back entertainers like Harsha from its benefactors, the television audiences.
Also, I am not for a moment suggesting that the current commentary team is not good enough. I personally like the commentary of Sunil Gavaskar and Ravi Shastri (in spite of his cliches). But as they say, "the more, the merrier."
Harsha had once said, “Cricket cannot afford to throw up meaningless games before its benefactors, which is what spectators and television audiences are.”
Now we don’t know when he will back in the commentator’s box. But taking a cue from his above comment I would say, “Cricket cannot afford to hold back entertainers like Harsha from its benefactors, the television audiences. ”