A wave of outrage spread through Twitter on Sunday as cricket fans responded to the news that popular Indian cricket commentator Harsha Bhogle would not be commentating on the ongoing season of the Indian Premier League. The Board of Control for Cricket in India terminated its commentary contract with Bhogle without providing an explanation. The veteran commentator confirmed the development on Saturday.
The news of Bhogle's ouster followed reports of the BCCI contemplating ending its commentary association with former great Sunil Gavaskar as well, supposedly over reports of him being too expensive and "out of line".
That the Indian cricket body employed former players like Ravi Shastri and Sunil Gavaskar as commentators on its payroll was seen with suspicion by most fans. Many questioned whether the BCCI was trying to control what cricket commentators could say on air. Even the Justice Lodha panel, constituted by the Supreme Court to clean up Indian cricket, came down heavily on the BCCI, slamming the lack of objective commentary.
Bhogle, however, is one of the few Indian voices in cricket that enjoys near universal acclaim and is recognised as one of the world's leading commentators. Consequently, the news that the BCCI did not want to utilise his service for their biggest tournament, angered many. In the Indian Express, anonymous board officials claimed the decision was taken after receiving inputs from social media and players.
Other officials pointed to a recent heated exchange Bhogle had with a Vidarbha Cricket Association official during a game in Nagpur. Bhogle, for his part, clarified that that the exchange was due to the bilingual commentators having to rush around and climb flights of stairs after completing every stint due to the door of the VIP box being shut. He then added, "Even if it was the Nagpur incident, no one heard my part of the story."
Cricket fans on Twitter were an angry lot.
Last month, Indian cinema legend Amitabh Bachchan criticised Indian commentators for not talking more about Indian players after India won a close encounter against Bangladesh at the World Twenty20 tournament. It was widely speculated that he was specifically referring to Bhogle.
Indian captain Mahendra Singh Dhoni seemed to suggest that he agreed with Bachchan's tweet after he retweeted it with the following observation:
Both of them also came in for criticism from the Indian Twitterati who assumed that it was Bachchan's missive that had led to Bhogle's ouster from the IPL.
On Monday, Bhogle responded to the issue with an emotional post on Facebook, thanking those who had stood by him but reiterating that he remained the "teller of the story, not the story itself."