A letter to Harsha Bhogle because even the story of the storyteller is important
Respected Harsha Bhogle,
Wish you a very happy birthday!
Your journey as a commentator and cricket writer has truly been phenomenal. You have been a source of inspiration for many aspiring cricket writers and commentators not only in India but across all the cricket playing nations. You took a road less traversed and succeeded in it by any means of measurement. India has produced many commentators & many IIM grads. But I cannot recall any other IIM grad turned commentator. And to add, as you yourself say, once upon a time chemical engineer. So, you are a trailblazer in every sense.
Back in the 90s, when batsman used to get out playing a rash shot in the gullies of Bombay (now Mumbai); the comment from seniors used to be “Khud ko Tendulkar samajhta hai kya” (Do you think you are Tendulkar?). Similarly, when kids or grown-ups not playing the game criticize the players today, the common response is “Harsha Bhogle hai kya tu?” (You think you are Harsha Bhogle?). I have read fans calling you the Tendulkar of Indian commentary and I will say that they are not off the mark.
It is not that there are no other good commentators in India. I personally like the commentary of people like Sunil Gavaskar & Sourav Ganguly to name a few. But you being an outsider in that elite group makes you special.
I am sure your journey would not have been easy. It would have required great skill and determination to reach the level where you are today. To talk cricket with the greats of the game when you have not played at an international level would be challenging to say the least. Imagine telling something about batting to a person who has 10,000 international runs. Today, even those greats value your views on the finer aspects of the game; but that wouldn’t have been the case at the start of your commentary career.
The fact that there was a TV program – Harsha ki khoj (Hunt for Harsha) named after you speaks volume about the work that you have done. I am certain that my writing will not be able to do justice to your credentials; so I will leave it at that.
Maybe someday you will pen down your own story for the lesser mortals like us. Will you? Going by your comments that you are just a storyteller and not the story itself; the chances are less. But I differ from your views on this. No doubt that you are a storyteller and a pretty good one. But sometimes the story of the storyteller is also important.
Take the case of probably the first known commentator to mankind, Sanjay from the ancient Indian historic battle – Mahabharata. Now ask the importance of Sanjay to King Dhritarashtra to whom Sanjay had narrated the entire battle. Could someone else have narrated this epic battle to the king in a better manner? I leave the answer to this question for another day.
To quote one of the founding fathers of the United States of America, Benjamin Franklin - “Either write something worth reading or do something worth writing”. I will just end this letter by telling that your writing is definitely worth reading and it does need my testimony. But what you have done and achieved in life is also worth writing.
An Indian Cricket Fan