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Commentator vs commentator: Manjrekar, Bhogle may differ on the pink ball, but they have one thing in common

While Bhogle has dealt with barbs about his lack of top-level cricket experience, Manjrekar has also been trolled about his playing career.

, ET Bureau|
Updated: Nov 29, 2019, 01.10 PM IST
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Sanjay Manjrekar (right) engaged on a verbal tussle with Harsha Bhogle (left) over the pink ball.
Sanjay Manjrekar (right) engaged on a verbal tussle with Harsha Bhogle (left) over the pink ball.
There are times when a difference of opinion between two people highlights what they have in common. The tense, on-air exchange between Sanjay Manjrekar and Harsha Bhogle over the pink ball last week suggested that, consciously or not, they are seeking an acceptance of their credentials.

For those who came in late, Bhogle said that the post-mortem of the game, played between India and Bangladesh with a pink ball over day and night, should include feedback from players about the visibility of the ball.

“Don’t agree,” said Manjrekar. According to him, visibility was not the issue, the texture of the ball was. Then he spoke the discriminatory words that caused the controversy.

“You need to ask [players], Harsha. For those of us who have played the game, we get a fair idea about what’s happening out there,” Manjrekar said.

Ouch.

In response, Bhogle kept it classy.

“Having played the game you have a very good idea of what the conditions are,” he said. “But it [playing experience] cannot be a limitation to learning. It has to be an aid to learning.”

A hard knock
Reading between the lines, it is possible Manjrekar’s line was meant for his detractors as much as for Bhogle. This is because the social media mob is often scathing about Manjrekar’s playing career, at times unfairly so.

Manjrekar’s career was shorter than expected but he has a hundred in the West Indies against Malcolm Marshall and Co and a double century in Pakistan against Wasim Akram, Waqar Younis, Imran Khan and Co, not to mention a Ranji Trophy win in the day-night format. He is equipped to be a TV expert.

The situation is different for Bhogle. The masses have accepted him, but the player community is not always gracious. There is no doubt, however, that he has been the voice of Indian cricket for about three decades. Bhogle also played university level cricket well enough to bowl to VVS Laxman in the nets once, coincidentally at the same venue as the Pink Ball TestEden Gardens.

Bhogle took a strong stand against Manjrekar and clarified that playing experience cannot be a limitation to learning.
Bhogle took a strong stand against Manjrekar and clarified that playing experience cannot be a limitation to learning.

In his memoir, Laxman wrote, “I still went down to Eden in the evening to practice on my own, and it was Harsha Bhogle who bowled to me! The next morning, I was told that I was playing the Test. Harsha must have given me a good workout, for I danced to 95 and had a big opening stand with [Navjot] Sidhu, but fell with a century beckoning.”

Bhogle has dealt with barbs about his lack of top-level cricket experience throughout his career, and he admits sometimes they have gotten to him.

In an interview with ETPanache in 2017, during his ouster following mischievous tweets by Amitabh Bachchan and MS Dhoni, Bhogle had said, “The image created in our cricket is if you haven’t played, you can’t live. It stems from insecurity and arrogance. How many trucks did Ratan Tata drive? Does it mean he can’t run his company? It’s a very narrow way of looking at things.”

Attacking field

At no time were Manjrekar’s stats under more focus than when he made his infamous comment about Ravindra Jadeja during the World Cup, calling him a “bits and pieces” cricketer. The all-rounder responded by tweeting, “Still i have played twice the number of matches you [Manjrekar] have played and i m still playing. Learn to respect ppl who have achieved. I have heard enough of your verbal diarrhoea [sic].”

Ouch again, Manjrekar being the wounded party this time.

Jadeja did not stop at the tweet. He made a valiant 77 in the semis that proved Manjrekar wrong and almost took India into the final.

Displeased colleagues, however, are an occupational hazard, as Manjrekar wrote in Imperfect, his autobiography. To his credit, he is clear he wants to commentate without agenda. He does not chase friendships with players. In fact, in 2009, he burned his bridges for a time with one of his close friends, Sachin Tendulkar, by calling him the elephant in the room whose poor form at that time was not being addressed.

A few months ago, Manjrekar was massively trolled on social media for calling Ravindra Jadeja a 'bits and pieces' player.
A few months ago, Manjrekar was massively trolled on social media for calling Ravindra Jadeja a 'bits and pieces' player.

Kieron Pollard is another player who was furious at Manjrekar for calling him a player who did not have the brains to play early in an innings.

“A commentator must never have an agenda. If they are worried about their relationship with players, they aren’t being honest with their jobs. Viewers will see through it,” Manjrekar wrote. Elsewhere in the book, he said, “As a player, I had an opinion about everything. I was not afraid of sharing my opinion in team meetings. By nature, I am extremely judgmental.”

Not long ago, Manjrekar and Bhogle did an offbeat online segment by a pond in England. They spoke music, in particular the song 'Hawaon pe likh do, hawaon ke naam' from the movie 'Do Dooni Char'.

In it, Manjrekar chided Bhogle by saying, “The song is by Kishore Kumar, but if you sing it, people will think it is by Talat Mehmood.”

That is the kind of ribbing we would like to see between the two. Not to say cricketing arguments are not entertaining.

History In Making: Kolkata Shimmers In Pink As India Gears Up For First Day-Night Test

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Glittering In Pink

21 Nov, 2019
In what is being considered a landmark occasion, India’s first day-night Test match will be played at Eden Gardens in Kolkata on Friday. This is the first time that Team India will play with the pink ball, and to mark the monumental moment, not just Eden but the entire city of Kolkata is decked up in pink.The Board of Cricket Control in India (BCCI) tweeted a 17-second video, on Wednesday, showing how the City of Joy is preparing for the big match.The video shows Eden Gardens stadium and several other landmark spots in the city shimmering in a pink hue.The new BCCI Chief, Sourav Ganguly, who is the brain behind the first-ever day-night Test, also posted a picture of two skyscrapers shining in pink on his Twitter handle.
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