20 February 2008

Underrated Achiever

The Indian tour of Australia is nearly at the end of its enthralling journey just as I am about to embark on a historic voyage of my own. I am about to start writing on the one acommon religion of a billion Indians – CRICKET. The cricket lover in me has finally smiled after seeing a new generation take small yet confident steps on the big playground. It has been a pleasure watching the Indian team, post- Melbourne test, perform in Australia. The seniors have pulled their weight and more importantly, the youngsters, especially in the Commonwealth Bank ODI series, have shown that there is much to hope for in the coming future. Therefore, there is no more perfect time for me to start writing about cricket.

But, now that the tour is coming to an end, it is with a degree of sadness that I watch the youngsters perform. The reason is that, in a matter of weeks, ESPN-STAR is going to bid farewell to telecasting live cricket to the Indian audience, at least until the ill-fated Asia cup in June. Along with ESPN-STAR, a very familiar voice will stop taking centre stage at four in the morning- HARSHA BHOGLE. For the last couple of months, Harsha’s voice has been,invariably, my morning wake up call whether discussing the umpiring issues or the vagaries of the climate. It has been delightfully refreshing to see that the oomph factor is not a pre-requisite to being a successful broadcaster. With Harsha anchoring the show, the toss and the pitch report become important events. Aimless chatter and bosom hugging sarees are replaced by a sensible discussion on the Tendulkar phenomenon and the Perth triumph. The most sensible cricketing show that I have seen in the last six moths has been his “Harsha Online” series and especially the episode starring Adam Gilchrist, just after the Sydney fiasco. That particular episode was special as two of cricket’s most vaunted gentlemen – one of the playing fraternity, the other of the media family, discussed on cricket with evident mutual respect, showing that cricket still retains its decency, despite the unwanted mudslinging we saw at Sydney.

Harsha Bhogle has been the face of ESPN-STAR’s cricket broadcasts for well over a decade and has become an absolutely integral ingredient to ESPN-STAR’s continued excellence on the cricket front. What has been wonderful to see is his measured approach to anchoring the show. While several questions are clich├ęs in the telecast field, so often the way you put it across the table or even the timing of the question could make a whale of a difference in the impact it generates. That has been a quality that Bhogle has displayed adequately and efficiently. This is not forgetting Harsha’s commentating skills. Partnered with an ex-international star, like Geoffrey Boycott, Bhogle has been adept at describing the cricket and also bringing in the star’s expertise at the same time, thus adding to the show in general. There are several other arrows up Bhogle’s quiver. To me, his blogs on ESPN-STAR website have been the most eagerly awaited ones. When he writes, one suddenly finds the trams of Kolkata and the tons by Kallis in the same paragraph. Neither looks out of place, each in fact adding to the reading experience. Harsha’s writings have made me dream about England in June, about the magic of reading Rohit Brijnath, his friend Geoffrey Boycott and the real story behind the leopard which was a part of the ESPN studio during the 2003 South Africa world cup. There is a superb control of the language and the metaphors he uses mesmerizes you and reminds you of your old English teacher.

But, to me Harsha Bhogle stands for a man who has lived his boyhood dream. Like Bollywood for the 1970’s, cricket has been the ultimate drug for the Y2K generation. It has given dreams of being multi-millionaires sporting designer shades and having svelte girls on either side. But, more often than not, people fall by the way side. The aspiring young fourteen year old prodigy becomes a satisfied graduate at twenty two and a happy corporate employee at twenty five. Cricket takes a back seat, becoming something to be seen on the television, the old cricket bat has been discarded. But, it is here that Harsha Bhogle has been different. It is difficult for us to imagine an Indian Institute of Management Ahmedabad graduate to try for the job of a cricket commentator. Yet, Harsha did it in order to pursue a childhood dream. Harsha Bhogle is an example of a man willing to sacrifice a fruitful career in the quest of a distant dream. That to me is his real legacy, the real source of inspiration he provides to me.

Today, as I try to write about that modern opium - Cricket, there is no better source of inspiration than Harsha Bhogle for daring to dream when many would have rested on their laurels. This blog is a tribute to the likes of Harsha, the underrated achievers in and off the cricket field.

3 comments:

Straight Point said...

Welcome to the community sajith...

its not only nice but heartening to see someone taking time off big stars ...and talk about the broadcaster who is like a bridge between us and cricket...we see matches through his voice...understand cricket better through his programs and discussions...and yet nobody say him thank you very much to them for wonderful experience and moments...

Thanks sajith...

Jrod said...

Nice work.

Harsha is certainly well respected in Australia, although he does suck up a bit much to the Aussies at times.

Sajith said...

Thanks to you, straight point and to you jrod for your comments.
I would disagree with you on just one aspect that Harsha doesnt appear to be biased in his comments. Probably that gives the impression that he sucks up to the Australians.