The story behind Harsha Bhogle's sacking

On condition of anonymity, several of the BCCI officials are willing to reveal the details that led to Harsha Bhogle’s exit.

Hours before the start of the Indian Premier League’s ninth edition, Harsha Bhogle took to the social media to let the world know he was not to be part of the IPL commentary team for the first time.   -  Bhagya Prakash K

“Kitna cricket khele ho aap? (How much cricket have you played?)”

Every time an Indian cricketer is offended with observations about him by a journalist, the player invariably tends to ask these five overused words to the scribe.

For the last quarter of a century, Harsha Bhogle not only survived such an onslaught but also established himself as a cricket presenter-cum-commentator in his own unique, amiable way. His immense popularity is evident from the number of followers he has on social media platforms; he is also a much sought-after guest speaker at corporate events.

Hours before the start of the Indian Premier League’s ninth edition, Bhogle took to the social media to let the world know he was not to be part of the IPL commentary team for the first time. Hours later, he revealed on Twitter that he had a programme ‘roster’ too before the BCCI’s sudden decision to axe him.

Over the last four days, no BCCI official has come on record to explain the reasons behind the ouster despite hiring Bhogle from STAR India, to which he is contracted, only for the IPL. But on condition of anonymity, several of them are willing to reveal the details that led to Bhogle’s exit.

‘Trespassing’

The alleged spat with a Vidarbha Cricket Association official — the base of BCCI and ICC supremo Shashank Manohar — in Nagpur over not being allowed to pass through the President’s Box at the Jamtha Stadium for entering the Hindi to English commentary box during the World T20 has been touted as the primary reason.

It is also believed that a key unit of the BCCI, headed by a former India cricketer, has complained about Bhogle’s behaviour during the World T20. The pitch also got queered when one of the most celebrated cricketer-commentators ‘declined’ to be on air with Bhogle.

While all these reasons have been dissected in detail, a little-known fact has been Bhogle’s exchange of words with two senior members of the Indian team. One of them is believed to have confronted Bhogle on a flight about the views he had expressed on air about the team. While the other senior, known to be very close to a key BCCI functionary, stepped in as peace-maker, he apparently also complained to the board official about Bhogle.

It led to Bhogle being removed from the IPL roster just a week before the tournament was to begin. “I still don’t know why I am not doing the IPL. I can accept the fact that people don’t like me. But I genuinely hope it isn’t because cricketers have complained about what I have to say,” Bhogle posted on his Facebook page.

The relationship between the cricketers and journalists has deteriorated over the last few years.

However, Indian TV commentators remained largely unaffected until last week’s incident proved that for the cricketers and the administration, commentators, like journalists, probably hold little significance.