Time to bring back sanity back to comment box.
I used to work in a company with a senior architect who had 20-plus years of industry expertise. Everybody in the company deferred to his authority. Once he revealed that he had studied until the eighth grade. The tech market is full of geeks that hold influence in their businesses compared to Ivy Leaguers and IITians. Now, don’t get me wrong. I don’t mean to imply that all those dollars and years spent in receiving a top notch education from the best schools were not worth it. It’s just we do not care where you came out; we are concerned with what you are able to deliver.
The spat between Sanjay Manjrekar and Harsha Bhogle during a comment stint in the recently-concluded pink-ball Test between India and Bangladesh reminded me. After Bhogle and Manjrekar had a difference of opinion, Manjrekar attempted to shut Bhogle down by reminding everyone that he had played a decade of cricket, while Bhogle had played none. About having to bear the remarks of someone who hasn’t researched the topics he studied in 38, had Sanjay worked in the same company because this self-taught techie, he would have complained.
Additionally, it highlighted the hegemony of previous cricketers in media responsibilities. While that may be true the comment box is beginning to look like a monopoly of cricketers.
Analysis isn’t exclusive to ex-players
When you look at the history of sports analysis has never been the exclusive realm of people who have played sport that is elite. Bill James, whose the famed Moneyball revolution inspired in baseball, never played with with with any professional game . Tony Cozier, dubbed as West Indies cricket’s voice, was revered among fans and cricketers alike. Michael Holding formerly said as a schoolboy, he understood he had an opportunity of playing for the West Indies if he was written well about by Tony Cozier.
Closer home, the words of Rajan Bala were so powerful that they motivated his match to be completely transformed by Navjot Sidhu from what Bala referred to as a’wonder’ into’sixer Sidhu’. It’s said that the technical nous of Bala was so respected that Sachin Tendulkar afterwards approached him . Somewhat ironically, in the light of what transpired a few days back from the comment box, Manjrekar talked highly of this author’s contribution to the match and published the last book of Bala on cricket.
T20 leagues have brought into the sport in corporate governance and supplied a level playing ground for analysts with no background in cricket. Journalists like Jarrod Kimber and Hassan Cheema have held positions in the backroom staff of T20 league teams. Mike Hesson, who had a successful stint as the head trainer of New Zealand and that was recently appointed Royal Challengers Bangalore’s head coach, hasn’t played a single first-class game. Hesson, in fact, took up coaching at the ripe age of 22.
Manjrekar’s lack of civility
Manjrekar attracted flak from fans when he contested Ravindra Jadeja’s capability as an ODI cricketer. Jadeja himself submitted a tweet calling Manjrekar’s lack of credentials out. Manjrekar, however, was well to make that decision. That’s what he’s paid to do. You can disagree with his opinion, but can not mistake him.
At the exact same time, Manjrekar has no right to question the credentials of those who are sitting alongside him in the commentary box. Anyone with a microphone in hand has the same ability to make a judgement irrespective of his background. The observations about the ball’s visibility of manjrekar may well be accurate, but that’s beside the point. What enraged cricket lovers was not the sense of entitlement in his assumptions although the validity of Manjrekar’s argument.
Questioning his credentials is borderline bullying and shows a simple lack of civility on the part of Manjrekar, while disagreeing with your co-commentator is fine. He should never utter a word when fast-bowling is being discussed in the commentary box, Should you expand Manjrekar’s debate. The next time he analysing Mitchell Starc’s approach into the crease and is currently sitting with Wasim Akram, Akram should be well within his rights to ask Manjrekar allow him to speak and to zip up. For all of the wrong reasons, cricket commentators have been in the news Naturally. Before this year, Kerry O’Keefe made fun of the first-class record of a rookie Mayank Agarwal. On the game to tasteless war cries, a few commentators, particularly in the Hindi comment box, reduce their comments during India-Pakistan games.
Spare the comment box
The Manjrekar vs Bhogle tiff must act as an inflexion point for other cricket boards and the BCCI to restore some sanity to the comment box. In the baritone of Anant Setalvad and the soothing verse of Sushil Doshi’s words utilized to calm things down. Not anymore themselves add gas to the flame. When players get banned for behavior on the field, why should commentators be spared? Women and men speaking over one another and making personal remarks is the land of newsroom disagreements .