Two days after it became public that Sanjay Manjrekar was dropped from the BCCI commentators’ panel, the former Indian cricketer finally broke his silence, saying he accepts the BCCI’s decision as a professional.
“I have always considered commentary as a great privilege, but never an entitlement. It is up to my employers whether they choose to have me or not and I will always respect that. Maybe BCCI has not been happy with my performance of late. I accept that as a professional ,” wrote Sanjay on Twitter.
The popular commentator was in the news earlier for the wrong reasons — he had taken a dig at Ravindra Jadeja (during the 2019 World Cup), rubbed Sourav Ganguly the wrong way (June 2019) and then criticised Harsha Bhogle (over the pink ball test match).
So, did Manjrekar get a raw deal because he was too critical of players and fellow commentators?
Sports analyst and combat commentator Sunil Yash Kalra says that the BCCI’s move sets a dangerous precedent. Commentators should be given the liberty to express themselves and be critical, he feels. “It’s unfortunate! I feel commentators should be given that freedom to be able to come up with their own viewpoints on the game. While I agree that at times commentators may be harsh, they are ones who actually see the game and analyse,” explains Kalra, adding that this is not the first time a commentator has been dumped. “A few years back, another Indian commentator was removed without any prior intimation,” he says.
Was he referring to Harsha Bhogle? Did the political tweet cost him dear?
However, what’s interesting is that fans have expressed the opinion that Manjrekar’s ouster by BCCI secretary Jay Shah (son of Home Minister Amit Shah), was due to his support of the JNU students during the CAA protests in Mumbai in January 2020. “Over the years, Indians have given boundless love to their heroes without caring about their religion. That’s why I believe it’s impossible to shake India’s strong, secular instincts. Well done Mumbai,” tweeted Manjrekar on January 7, 2020.
A former Indian cricketer, on condition of anonymity, warns that commentators should never take a stand — especially when it comes to politics. And that’s what was Manjrekar’s undoing.
“He (Manjrekar) should not have expressed his views with regard to the JNU issue,” he said, adding that it is imperative to be neutral on sensitive issues.
Fans saw it coming
Since Manjrekar also got on the wrong side of Sourav Ganguly last year, fans say that they had seen this situation coming.
Manjrekar had insinuated that Sourav doesn’t let other commentators speak.
Sourav, in return, posted, “His comments on Twitter is a bit like his batting meaningless and and lack of ideas .. may be just an attention seeker...in the negative way” (sic) on June 2019.
Although Sourav did not name anyone in his tweet, it was understood that he was referring to Manjrekar.
CSK gets in a dig
Most commentators and former players are not comfortable talking about the issue, fearing retaliation by the BCCI.
However, interestingly, the Chennai Super Kings franchise took a sly dig at Manjrekar’s ‘bits and pieces’ comment about all-rounder Ravindra Jadeja which caused quite a stir during the ICC World Cup 2019. Chennai Super Kings tweeted, “Need not hear the audio feed in bits and pieces anymore.” (Ravindra Jadeja plays for Chennai Super Kings in the IPL franchise.)
Looks like Sanjay chose to take on the wrong men....