Harsha Bhogle is a popular Indian cricket commentator and sports journalist. The non-controversial figure found himself in an eye of storm when he was unceremoniously dropped from IPL 2016.
Early life and education
Harsha was born on July 19, 1961 to Maharashtrian parents in Hyderabad. His father A.D. Bhogle was a French professor while mother Shalini was a psychology professor. Harsha studied in Hyderabad Public School before graduating in Chemical Engineering from Osmania University. He did his post-graduation from Indian Institute of Management, Hyderabad. Post his graduation, he worked at an advertising agency before working for two years in a sports management company.
Though he looked for a career in advertisement, his intrinsic interest in cricket and a well-modulated voice that suited commentary turned his passion into a successful career. He became a commentator when he was just 19, doing a stint with All India Radio. Prior to the 1992 World Cup Cricket, the Australian Broadcasting Corporation invited Harsha as the first Indian commentator for a series.
Harsha became a regular for the ABC Radio Grandstand whenever Team India toured Australia He also worked with the BBC, doing commentary for eight years, which included the 1996 and 1999 World Cup Cricket matches.
Harsha became a part of the commentary panel for ESPN Star since 1995, which included the likes of professional cricketers like Sunil Gavaskar, Ravi Shastri and Navjot Singh Sidhu.
The TV commentator known for his impartial but genial style of TV commentary began covering IPL Cricket since 2009. He was also the advisor for Team Mumbai Indians when the IPL began in 2008.
Harsha Bhogle was hailed as the best TV cricket commentator by Cricinfo worldwide poll. Apart from cricket, he has also been an anchor for other shows like BBC’s ‘Travel India’,’ Travel India with Harsha Bhogle’ for Discovery Channel and Business Today programs He also has a popular YouTube channel called ‘Out of the Box with Harsha Bhogle’. A TV show called ‘Harsha ki Khoj’ or ‘Hunt for Harsha’ explains his popularity, the format of the program being the hunt for the best in anchoring talent after him.
Harsha Bhogle has also written a number of books including ‘The Winning Way’ which he co-wrote with his wife, ‘Out of the Box’ and a biography on Mohammed Azharuddin. He also writes sports columns for Indian Express, The Sportsstar’ and freelances for numerous magazines, tabloids and publications. He writes weekly articles on starsports.com and ESPNcricinfo. The anchor hosts ‘This Week’s Special’ a weekly sports show on Star Sports, which also includes a nostalgic element where he takes viewers through past cricketing glories.
Harsha Bhogle – Wife
Harsha Bhogle is married to Anita Bhogle. She was his classmate from IIM-A days. The couple live in Mumbai along with their two kids, Sachit and Chinmay. Anita and Harsha run a sports consultancy firm called Prosearch.. Before setting up Prosearch, Anita worked as director of account planning and research at FCB-Ulka.
Why was Harsha Bhogle dropped from IPL 9?
The social media reacted with outrage when Harsha Bhogle was dropped as a TV commentator for IPL 9. It came as a surprise even to Harsha because he was the one who conducted the season’s draft auction, was a part of promotional videos, had his roster planned and flight tickets booked.
Speculators suspect a political game from the highbrows that led to his ouster. In a nail-biting T-20 match, India had defeated Bangladesh by 1 run. Bollywood actor Amitabh Bachchan while celebrating India’s victory found Harsha Bhogle to be ‘too harsh’ on Indians. Without naming him, he wrote on Twitter, “With all due respects, it would be really worthy of an Indian commentator to speak more about our players than others all the time.”
Big B’s tweet tirade found support in MS Dhoni who added, ‘Nothing to add’.
Harsha Bhogle was surprised by Amitabh Bachchan’s tweet but respectfully replied through his Facebook account, “I must confess to being a bit taken aback by the intensity of the criticism yesterday over the question of focussing more on Indian players during the telecast. It emerged after a tweet from Mr. Amitabh Bachchan, someone I admire enormously for the dignified way in which he has always conducted himself,”
He then gave a detailed explanation, “There are two kinds of broadcasts available to Indian viewers. One, on Star Sports 1 is the world feed. That is the telecast, and commentary that goes to everyone around the world. That includes passionate fans in Bangladesh and Pakistan, in South Africa, Australia, England, the USA, everywhere. That broadcast must necessarily be an objective, balanced portrayal of events.”
However insiders claim that Harsha Bhogle’s ouster has nothing to do with Amitabh Bachchan’s tweet. They point out to an altercation that Bhogle had with a cricket official. He hinted about an argument he had with an official during the game at Nagpur. He said that the English and Hindi commentary boxes were separated by a VIP cabin. Since the VIP box door was shut, the bilingual commentators had to take flights of stairs to reach their respective boxes, which impacted their performance. Harsha said, “Since w are working on a tight deadline, all this running around would leave me panting. All because of that shut door.”
Board officials say that Harsh had a heated exchange of words with a cricket official over the ‘shut door’. The official reported the matter to the BCCI president Shashank Manohar, and the rest was history.
On April 11, 2016, Harsha Bhogle wrote a Facebook post expressing his gratitude and thanks for people who supported him.
I am, though, deeply moved by the messages I have got. I am overwhelmed that people who don’t know me have taken the trouble to express their views on the matter. Young men and women who are my children’s age have offered me advice. Famous people and simple cricket lovers have gone on public platforms. And I have been particularly touched by the people who say they don’t rate me as a commentator but who speak out in my favour (that you may disagree with people but fight for their right to have an opinion was an attitude injected into me very early in life).
It is an incident that tells me how much we care for the game that we hold so dear.
I don’t know what lies ahead. I have a contract with Star Sports with whom I share an excellent relationship. It is the reason why I don’t have to do the IPL. I do it because I genuinely like the cricket on offer, I want to be part of cricket’s laboratory to see what is brewing. It is a fantastic tournament.
I still don’t know why I am not doing the IPL. I haven’t been told. 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. I tell every young cricketer who cares to listen that we will never agree on everything but I will always desire that they do well; that I cannot stop them from scoring a run, or taking a wicket or holding a catch. Doing that is their job, telling the story of what they did, or didn’t, is mine. Our paths will be strewn with admiration and disagreement. It is the nature of the job whether you are a university level cricketer or among the best there has been.
And, for heaven’s sake, my greatest criticism is that I don’t do enough of it. And when I do, my friend Prem Panicker isn’t sure whether I have critiqued a player of proposed marriage!!
So, thank you very much. I love what I do and your words have been overwhelming.
But, I remain the teller of the story, not the story itself.