The omission of Harsha Bhogle, Indian cricket’s best-known non-Test-player commentator, from the IPL commentary team has caused a mini-storm.
Bhogle’s dismissal has been layered with unconfirmed reports of him not getting a contract because of an argument with a Vidarbha Cricket Association (home of current BCCI president Shashank Manohar) over an opened door not being available to him for commentary during the World T20 tournament.
There are also stories doing the rounds that Bhogle antagonised members of the Indian team with his criticism of last year’s India vs South Africa Nagpur Test pitch.
If that is true, then an ugly precedent has been set and indeed, this is a slap in the face for freedom of speech. No commentator would slam his/her employers left, right and centre, but a commentator sure has the right to make calls as he sees things.
The Nagpur wicket was a poor one and Bhogle was not the only expert around who slammed it. In fact, almost everyone — except the Indian team and a few experts who are nothing short of cheerleaders — believed it was shameful piece of turf to play a Test match on.
While perceived reasons behind Bhogle’s axing have been flowing thick and fast, the BCCI, in its infinite wisdom, has chosen to keep mum. By doing that, they have provided more reason to believe that Bhogle got the boot because he did not speak their language.
And while cricket lovers here watch in disgust, the world of international cricket is watching too, probably sharpening their tongues to bad-mouth India and expose its cricketing credibility.
Transparency has never been the BCCI’s virtue, but there’s no better time to change than now, a time when the Supreme Court via the Lodha Commission has sent out a strong message to the czars of Indian cricket — ‘if you can’t run the game seamlessly, we will do that for you.’
The Bhogle controversy provides yet another example how poor in spirit the rich Board of Control for Cricket in India actually is.