Harsha Bhogle vs Sanjay Manjrekar: Manjrekar the bad boy of cricket commentary?
While an incensed internet demands an apology from Sanjay Manjrekar for his cheap slight at Harsha Bhogle, we remind that you that this is not the first time Manjrekar has riled the fans & cricketers alike. A deep dive into the debate and a look at the 'bad boy of commentary'.
The second test between India and Bangladesh will be remembered for many reasons. It was the first day-night 'pink ball test' India ever played and arguably marked highest attendance in a test match in the longest time. It was also Sourav Ganguly's first major 'event' as the BCCI president, and first of the innovations he intends introduce to Indian cricket.
It will be remembered for another thing. Something which happened off the field, inside the commentary box. During the third and final day of the match, commentators Harsha Bhogle and Sanjay Manjrekar were discussing the pink ball and its future in Test cricket, when Manjrekar came up with an unwarranted and cheap slight directed at Bhogle, who is widely considered as one of the finest commentators of our time.
Majrekar seemed to suggest that he was more of an authority in the game because he has played international cricket.
Manjrekar, who played 37 Tests for India between 1987 and 1996, replied, “Don’t think so. Don’t think visibility is an issue.”
“We just need to ask the players what they think,” Bhogle replied.
Manjrekar, escalating the argument, took an unexpected jibe at Bhogle’s lack of experience in playing international cricket. “You need to ask, for those of us who have played the game, we have a fair idea of what’s happening out there. It’s evident it can be seen well.” he said.
...and the social media exploded. Hell hath no fury like twitterati scorned and Majrekar was at the recieving end of it.
This is boorish and absolutely unnecessary from @sanjaymanjrekar. Pity. What does it cost to be civil to a fellow commentator who was asking a very valid question? "You need to ask." Really. https://t.co/M7uhsyFpgD— Joy Bhattacharjya (@joybhattacharj) November 24, 2019
This is unnecessarily condescending and disappointing coming from someone such as @sanjaymanjrekar who I have respect and affection for. Of course playing the game at the highest level is great. But, as @bhogleharsha says, no harm at all in asking those involved in THIS game. https://t.co/MTvIVLzcK0— Anand Vasu (@anandvasu) November 24, 2019
I think the next item on Dada's To-Do list should be de-list Sanjay Manjrekar. Adds absolutely no value, raging sycophant, makes watching Cricket a painful experience, and is an around nuisance. We deserve better— Gabbbar (@GabbbarSingh) November 24, 2019
This is not the first time Manjrekar has faced the ire of fans for his commentary. In fact, he's quite at an old hand in riling players and TV audiences alike. He faced a lot of criticism when he suggested Sachin Tendulkar was past his prime and needed to quit when the legend was still scoring heavily. His comments on Mahendra Singh Dhoni too rubbed many cricket followers the wrong way.
But the most public takedown of Manjrekar was when Ravindra Jadeja, infuriated with his comments, decided to slam him on twitter, saying that he had played twice the number of matches than Manjrekar had and that he had better learn to respect people who have achieved. "I have heard enough of your verbal diarrhoea @sanjaymanjrekar," he tweeted.
Funny still, this too wasn't the first time Manjrekar was accused of having a 'verbal diarrhoea'. He rubbed the West Indian cricketer Keiron Pollard the wrong way, when he said on-air that Pollard "lacks the brains to play early in the innings,”. Pollard took the issue on twitter and lashed out at Manjrekar saying that he can "continue with his verbal diarrhoea" and how words can't be taken back after once they're said.
@sanjaymanjrekar u feel any positive can come out of your mouth bcuz u get pay to talk u can continue with your verbal diarrhea ..— Kieron Pollard (@KieronPollard55) April 9, 2017
Do you know how I get big so.. about BRAINLESS.. words are very powerful .. once it leaves u can't take it back.. sins of parents fall on...— Kieron Pollard (@KieronPollard55) April 9, 2017
Reacting to this Pollard's Windian teammate Tino Best also slammed Manjrekar and even indirectly accsued him of racism.
Don't worry I know how y'all feel about my ppl deep down inside always saying we stupid we don't have sense piss off with that crap ????— Tino95 (@tinobest) April 9, 2017
On the other hand, Bhogle too isn't facing this 'question' for the first time. In fact, he addressed a similar issue while speaking at IIM Ahmedabad in 2005. At that seminar, he talked about the superiority complex that cricketers tend to suffer from and how often a person has to face the question of how much cricket he/she has played.
“The one question that has prevented Indian cricket growing into human beings, and therefore into better cricketers, is how much cricket have you played. So everybody, even if you are a surgeon or a lawyer, you are always judged on the scales of just how much cricket have you played,” the 58-year-old had said.
Harsha Bhogle's reply to Sanjay Manjrekarpic.twitter.com/cwe78oOtWy— Cricketopia (@CricketopiaCom) November 25, 2019
While Manjrekar is perhaps used to of getting hate on twitter, Bhogle too isn't new to the internet taking his side. Twitterati had even slammed Amitabh Bacchan and MS Dhoni, when the former had indirectly accused Bhogle of being biased to opposition teams and the latter had re-tweeted it. Following that row, Bhogle was even taken off the commentary panel unofficially for a couple of years.
Like most things, this was not the first time that television commentators were having a go at each other and sullying a perfectly nice experience of the game. In fact, it's quite common in the game of cricket with a new crop of player-commentators popping up across the world. And in no way this is the first time this debate of whether former cricketers understand the game better than experienced and articulate journalists has come up.
There is an adage which goes like 'one doesn't have to lay an egg to know if it is good or bad' and it is often ascribed (possibly apocryphaly) to one of the legends of cricket journalism, the late Neville Cardus. Hopefully this adage informs the present debate as well it informed the Aussie all-rounder Keith Miller, when he confronted Cardus about him not having played the game.