A Demi-God Behind the Mic
- Harsha Bhogle just might be the first person in Indian Cricket to have become immortal without having as much as picked up a bat for the Indian team.
Born on 19th July 1961
Commentators are as crucial to a match broadcast as the players. Not only can a good commentary panel liven up the game, but they also provide enlightening insights that help the average joe gain a more in-depth understanding of the game. On the other hand, a bad line-up can suck the fun out of the game and become a thorn in the viewer's side.
It wouldn't be far from the truth to say that cricketers, having seen and experienced the game from close proximity, turn out to be better commentators. Harsha Bhogle serves as the living exception to this rule and reigns as the king of commentary in Indian Cricket.
Born into a family of academicians, Bhogle received premiere education right from his childhood. When he was studying Chemical Engineering at Osmania University, he represented their cricketing team but he didn't ever really make the cut for playing on higher levels in the game.
He was roped in to commentate by All India Radio at just 19. Before he knew it, he got into the Indian Institute of Management, Ahmedabad. After completing PGDM from IIM-A, Bhogle joined an advertising agency for two years before finally going to work for a sports management company, a stint that brought him closer to doing what he loved.
This was a time when not many Indians were considered good enough to make it onto English commentary panels because of pre-conceived racist notions of thick accents that were impossible to understand by the viewers. It was also assumed that not many people knew English, which reduced the scope of a successful market anyway.
Sachin changed the game on the pitch in the 90s, Bhogle changed the game off it. Despite all the barriers that came in his way, Australian Broadcasting Corporation invited him to commentate in India's tour of Australia and Harsha became the first person to have achieved this.
The BBC too employed him for 8 years, including for the 1996 and the 1999 World Cup. In 1999, he was voted number one commentator for the season by an independent website.
So many years on, Bhogle is unarguably one of the most sought after English commentators. Every ICC tournament remains incomplete without his voice gracing the commentary box. His mild-mannered yet exciting style of articulating the game has found many takers over the years.
Bhogle's relationship with overseas commentators has been pleasant but it was his own country's board that did not embrace him. His relationship with BCCI has been rocky- despite being loved and revered by most cricketers, including Sachin, he has been occasionally axed by the board. The most recent was in 2016 when some players complained to the board against him.
Regardless, he stands out as arguably the best commentator India has ever uncovered. His soothing voice, pinpoint analysis and ability to break the game into insights that are palatable to the common man has made him a favourite of the people, even when the boards hasn't been as kind to him. Nothing describes him better than a snippet by Hindustan Times from back in the day-
“Warne and Bhogle are one. They made a complicated and tricky art appear easy, prompting many imitations, but no true successors.”