In cricket, commentators have played a huge role. They have changed the experience of watching the game. Over the years, while witnessing some spectacular games, we've heard various great voices come into our lives. Cricket without commentary is dull and when these two things come together, it's completely delightful for cricket fans.
While we've seen some really engrossing commentators like Richie Benaud, Tony Cozier, Mike Atherton and many more, we've also been exposed to the likes of Ramiz Raja, L. Sivaramakrishnan, Athar Ali Khan, etc.
India has produced one frontline commentator who hasn't had to shout at the top of his voice to keep the listeners engaged or take a jibe at cricketers to seek attention: none other than Harsha Bhogle.
His narration, his way of analysing the on field events define his value as a commentator. He has a deep knowledge and understanding of the game, which helps him imbue warmth and wit into his words with a mellow authority. He has the knack of providing apt metaphors as the situation demands or develops. A great example of this is during Sachin's farewell Test: in a unique use of words, Harsha Bhogle praised him by remarking, “You were a great habit, Sachin.”
Every time Bhogle was out there on the field, he would carry himself with easy confidence and style. Be it interview or analysis, he knew where he needed to stress while at the same time keeping the players comfortable. His knowledge of any statistics related to the game is also quite praiseworthy. Bhogle was always prepared to bring fresh insights regarding the mechanics of the game and the dynamics of a match situation into his commentary.
He carefully chose his words, so as to perfectly describe what was happening in the middle. A person listening to his commentary could pay complete attention to the action on the field of play.
Not even the best of players could escape the clutches of Bhogle when he was in the mood to ask questions. He often placed himself in the shoes of the fans and posed questions that the followers of the game would have.
Earlier this year, he was sacked by the BCCI. What's worse is that there was no clear reasoning to justify this decision. While some alleged that he had an argument with match officials during a WT20 game, there were rumours that suggested some top cricketers were not fond of him since he didn't speak highly of Indian players.
Whatever the reason, his sacking was quite mindless and injudicious. Large numbers of supporters lashed out at the BCCI in social media. Their solidarity in defending him compelled Harsha himself to appreciate the outpouring of feelings.
The BCCI has always been stern when dealing with voices that turn against them. Harsha Bhogle's job is that of a commentator; his job is to sound and be unbiased as a cricket analyst as the match is telecast in many countries apart from India. Hence, if being neutral is the reason for his axing, it's an appalling and abysmal decision by the BCCI. This in turn poses a huge risk for any fair analysis of the game in the near future and something surely needs to undergo a change.
In July, Bhogle expressed his views on his sacking and the bad phase he was going through. Perfectly summarising the situation as always, he said, “I've always believed that some good will come out of it. I remember saying that when Virat Kohli failed in England, that it will be the best thing to happen to his career. Maybe this is the best thing that will happen to me.”
What's been special about this man is that he has achieved so much in spite of not having a top level cricketing career, unlike most other men in the commentary box. He's the idol for every cricket fan who wishes to pursue his passion of expressing his views related to the game. For years now, he has been one of the best and most unbiased analysts in the commentary box.
I hope something good, nay something even better comes out of all this. His absence in the commentary box has been a sore point for cricket lovers round the globe. He had the charm and soul of a cricket romantic with a power over words, and could be a pleasure to hear. He is being dearly missed.
Hope to soon see Harsha Bhogle back where he belongs: the commentary box.
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