Friday, December 30, 2011

Is Harsha the Last in Line? By Vishnu Kumar


Cricket had seen tremendous growth over the last 2 decades in terms of both popularity and money. Evolution of TV and camera played as much bigger role as quality of cricket along with players in the success but just like lot of unknown and unappreciated background staff behind success of a great movie, the work of commentators in cricket are most loved and under-appreciated one.

There might be talk that few are biased, few are neutral and few are lame but on general point those people taught us more about the game and its rules for us to play the game we love. Whether it’s about LBW rules or backfoot drives or field placements or controversy behind the door or history of the game, we have been thoroughly informed and educated by them.

All this are fine but Why Harsha in the title? Because, he is a Hobbit (from Shires) among many battle warriors in the commentary box. I think he is the first cricket commentator who hadn’t played even first class cricket? Anyway, it doesn’t matter now since we are dealing with question of last not first. For me personally, he is one among the elite commentator league if its exist one. Being never played cricket at level not more than university, yet have been in commentator team for 20 years now definitely illustrates the point of how good he is just like Sachin career.

ESPNSTAR channel conducted a contest for next commentary talent not in the names of Richie or Ravi Shastri or David Gower or Tony or Boycott or Ian but on Harsha Bhogle (Hunt for Harsha, which Harsha calls has most satisfying moment in his career as commentator and deeply moved when he heard it first). His IIM degree certainly helped him lot with his unique way of speaking and looking at the game differently. I think being not played international cricket helped him voice opinion like fans do and quiz the cricketers for answers which separated him from other commentators.

If two commentators who happened to be former players speaking means, they will not view situations from out of box like we fans do when couple of wickets fallen quickly, players used to play very defensively and they support their playing style by saying, “getting through this phase is important” whereas we used to yell – Comen! Hit a six or four. Harsha doesn’t voice like that though but rather often emphasis on being Positive (the same term Harsha uniquely used to define for India’s poor overseas and good home performances).


“In the recently concluded test series between India and West Indies, last match ended in draw (practically a tie). In third test when two runs required off two balls, Indian spinner R Ashwin defended the penultimate ball and instantly there was chaos among everyone for his action. But soon commentators (Ravi Shastri and great Sunil Gavaskar) appreciated the decision that Ashwin ensured India will not lose by defending this ball because if he gets out now and Ojha, the next batsmen gets out in next ball, India will lose the match. Most of fans, players and many of former legends seemed to agree with Ashwin decision but not Harsha. Harsha Bhogle tweeted that Ashwin should have looked for single rather than blocking the ball and left the last ball in hands of Umesh Yadav to score a run or perish. The logic or probability of India winning is larger in terms of Harsha suggestion than what legends agreed with.

It’s one of many instances which highlighted Harsha brilliance. If you are positive, there are many ways but there might not be more than one if you are negative. Cricketers often used to go through more negative thoughts than positive and that’s one of big reason I see for even Gavaskar agreeing while commentating.

I am sure those watching tour down under missed Harsha dearly either in the show or in commentary or in both (like me). Harsha said in twitter that he doesn’t know the reason behind Star Cricket for not inviting him and his contract with ESPNSTAR ended some time ago. Recently in a chat organized by rediff.com, Harsha answered “I don’t know why but channels are now more inclined to hire former players” to a question about why there are not many non-player commentator like you which raised my growing concerns that channels want former players only and they think it is one way to increase TRP (Ganguly is prime example for that).

I am not against former players becoming commentators because they provide in-depth inside informations for us. Players like Ganguly, Mbangwa and Hussain do add more for viewers to listen into commentary but people like Harsha and Wilkins (though he had played first class cricket) will be always sorely missed.

We Indians say Sachin, Sourav, Dravid, Laxman and Kumble as Fab five but honestly it is an incomplete benzene ring and the name Harsha is what makes it as perfect Fab six. Starting from 90s, all these people played huge role in many Indians both in terms of cricket and life. I am afraid that Harsha cricket career might end in few years down the line like remaining Fab players but hope I am wrong atleast in case of Harsha.


By,

Vishnu Kumar, one of many who learnt lot in cricket by listening to commentary and inspired by Harsha Bhogle.

2 comments:

  1. Nice to see a post on a commentator. Doubly so since it is on Harsha Bhogle, who is a favorite of mine too.

    Harsha symbolises for me the fact that Indians can be world class. He has stated that working alongside the ABC commentators was a formidable task especially since he was considered an upstart by those around him. But by dint of his work he earned their respect - not by performing at their level but at a notch more - to overcome deep rooted prejudices of colonial days.

    Thus Harsha is an inspiration for many aspiring Indian youngsters beyond teh field of cricket. Some of his conversations with IIM students available on You Tube show glimpses of the struggle he had to undergo and the sterner stuff he is made of.

    Channels like ESPN StarCricket are expected to keep a tab on what viewers want and like. In this instance they seem to have missed it.

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  2. it was wonderful to read about harsha.one of the greatest commentators

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