It’s in completely in sync with the way the BCCI functions.
Can you beat this? Harsha Bhogle, arguably India’s best commentator, is not in the box for IPL 9 after having been signed up for it.
Needless to say the decision to terminate the 54-year old IIM alumnus has shocked both his fans and independent observers. They now miss his wit and humor.
So why was he shown the door? No one has been told about it, including the commentator himself. So one can only speculate.
The first speculation points a finger at Amitabh Bachchan. Sr. Bachchan had objections to Harsha talking about foreign players. In the context of the India Bangladesh encounter, Bachchan tweeted, “T 2184 – With all due respects, it would be really worthy of an Indian commentator to speak more about our players than others all the time.”
The matinee idol forgot that Harsha was an international commentator, not an Indian commentator.
Harsha, the professional that he is, responded with dignity and grace in a Facebook post. He pointed, and rightly so, that “no commentator needs to focus primarily on Indian players, as commentary is being aired globally.”
Harsha is widely respected because he is never seen to be partial to any country. You understand this when you hear a Rameez Raja say “We” while talking about Pakistan. Harsha never does that. It’s one thing for a matinee idol to comment, it’s another thing for the BCCI to use that to sack a thoroughbred professional.
Can a commentator be considered biased because he says, “India has defended the total with some spirit. But the catches dropped will hurt them.” Or if he says, “I said it on air and I will say it again. This is the best group of player I have seen from Bangladesh.”
A second argument against Bhogle was that his commentary ‘dispirited’ the Indian Team. This is audacious. Bhogle is not being paid to be the motivational speaker for the Indian team. Tomorrow if a commentator who comes from a different country says something critical of India will India demand its ouster?
The more dangerous possibility is that someone high up in the Indian team complained about Harsha to the Board. The commentator himself doesn’t rule out a possibility that a player who does not like him too much has complained about him to the BCCI. He posted on his Facebook page “I genuinely hope it isn’t because cricketers have complained about what I have to say.”
If this is true, it’s dangerous. If a cricketer or bunch of cricketers is to decide who is to commentate, we are walking up a dangerous path. Who is to decide whether criticism is warranted or otherwise? After all, there are various points of view, which is why we are a vibrant democracy. Also, there are in any case many commentators who give certain players far more credit than is due. The BCCI says it takes inputs from the social media. Will it do that to next select the national team.
A third plausibility is the standoff between Bhogle and the Vidarbha Cricket Association during the India-New Zealand World T20 match in Nagpur. A VIP box which was the president’s enclosure was located between Hindi and English commentary boxes inconveniencing the commentators, as the doors of the VIP box were shut. The commentators could not move freely. This resulted in an angry exchange between Bhogle and the officials, which the BCCI may not have taken lightly. Well, well, if a man is to lose a job for pointing out an inconvenience, God bless Indian cricket.
Be it any of the reasons that the BCCI deemed fit, it is not professional to ease out a man without giving him an opportunity of being heard. You can’t sack a man by through an email. Assuming that Harsha said something that upset some player, let’s not forget there are many things that players have said that have upset others.
Harsha will no doubt miss the limelight, but if he were to comeback he should stick to what he thinks is right than to read pre-prepared script. We already have stooges in politics. We don’t need stooges in sports.
By all means the BCCI has the prerogative to take those who they wish, and drop who they dislike. But you need to offer Harsha an explanation.