The IPL Commentary Controversy is all about getting personal with Sanjay Manjrekar. After being on the panel for 12 years, he has been dumped unceremoniously.
By Martin D’Souza | Opening Doorz Editorial | September 19, 2020
The IPL begins in the UAE today and Sanjay Manjrekar will not be in the commentary box. Manjrekar is known for his frank, ‘on-the-spot’ opinions, which not always goes down well with the cricketers and the BCCI bosses, or so it seems.
Manjrekar was quick to apologise for his on-air ‘pink-ball fight’ with co-commentator Harsha Bhogle and also made good for his ‘bits and pieces’ remark on Ravindra Jadeja.
Manjrekar has gone on record being upset for the Bhogle episode: “This has been the worst year for me as an analyst and as a commentator. One thing I pride myself on is professionalism and with that particular comment (on Bhogle), it was me losing control and I was unprofessional, I was wrong and it is something that I regret,” Manjrekar had said in an interview. “It was wrong of me and it is what really bothers me I let my emotions get the better of me. Mostly being unprofessional and to an extent indecent as well.”
By calling Jadeja a ‘Bits and pieces player’ he (Manjrekar) was not wrong. Although he was blown away by the performance, Jadeja, because he was a ‘bits and pieces player’, could not see India through to the finish line, falling in the 48th over. So where was Manjrekar wrong? He had assessed the player right. But then, he also offered an apology with his praise.
The Two Tweet story of Manjrekar
The reason for Manjrekar’s exclusion is not his comments; it is his ‘two tweets’ on Sourav Ganguly, who is now the Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) President. But when Manjrekar tweeted, Sourav was the Chief of Cricket Association of Bengal (CAB).
Ganguly does not forget! He always gets his pound of flesh. Even on the balcony at Lords, he had not forgotten Andrew Flintoff!
In April 2019, when the Delhi Capitals incident blew up involving Ganguly, who was then also the Cricket Association of Bengal (CAB) Chief, Manjrekar wrote on twitter: “I kno of a great way to avoid any conflict of interest. Avoid greed.”
Ganguly did not respond.
In June 2019, after sharing the commentary box with Ganguly, Manjrekar tweeted: “Always happy when Sourav Ganguly is in commentary. You get to relax not just in between commentary stints but during it too. Face savouring food.”
This time Ganguly retaliated: “His comments on Twitter is a bit like his batting meaningless and lack of ideas… may be just an attention seeker…in the negative way.”
That I believe did it for Manjrekar. Four months later, on October 22, 2019, Ganguly took over as the 39th President of the BCCI. ‘Attack Manjrekar Mission’ had begun.
Attack Manjrekar Mission
But Sourav should not forget that Manjrekar had tweeted in his favour when Anil Kumble was selected as the India coach in June 2016 and Ravi Shastri was seeing red. He had come out in support of Ganguly and the BCCI saying: “More than Sourav, I think Ravi is miffed with the rejection. It’s a new experience for him. BCCI have made the better choice as coach.”
In Mumbai, Nadim Memon, member of the Mumbai Cricket Association, with support from MCA Clubs, drummed up support to reinstate Manjrekar in the Commentary box for the IPL. But BCCI paid no heed to their written request.
For 12 continuous years Manjrekar has been in the Commentary Box for the IPL. It is not right that he has been chucked out for personal reasons. This is no way to treat a former Test Cricketer.
Wait a minute, Two Tweets had Prashant Bhushan in the dock, but then, he triumphed.
Sanjay Manjrekar also will.
Footnote: Sourav Ganguly knows his time is up. According to the Lodha Committee Report, whether State or BCCI, no office-bearer can be in office for more than 6 years. After 6 years there is a cooling period of three years.
BCCI has now petitioned the Supreme Court to remove the ‘cooling period’ so that they get an extension, which is a question mark.
They are requesting the Supreme Court to give them a relief from the Supreme Court verdict! The hearing is on September 21.
Welcome to the IPL Circus, 2020.
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Cover pic courtesy: Ram Bherwani