The ordinary fan of cricket, who follows the sport regularly, quietly, through the television screen at his command, or the newspaper and magazines he may subscribe to, or who may go by the spoken word of commentators via his trusted transistor or podcast, is not an inanimate mind even if he is invisible beyond reality of occupied seats of a stadium or crush of immediate crowds that gather at practice, presser and competition. The players of the sport - including the commentators and managers of it - can only guess about the vast unseen that forms the basis of their industry. The perspicacious among them can see complex dynamic patterns woven by millions of strands of loyalties and impatience, likes and dislikes, demands and lack of same, in that intangible space of fanhood and respond in a way most benefical to all concerned at the most appropriate time. The need for change usually sends subtle signal ripples ahead of its own forceful presence for the sensitive to recognize and act. Change must be considered when its need prods repeatedly, or, not to crack the wind of the poor theme, delaying necessary change or discussions about it, will only tender foolishness and folly for the fan to follow in the aftermath of ignoring it.
Harsha Bhogle is a commentator who invokes a mixture of feelings. I must emphasize here, these are my own personal views. The mix, ultimately, however, tends towards the corner of "commonsense commentator" in the box. When it comes to the crunch, fans can expect Bhogle to speak boldly and correctly, without the slightest hint of twin diseases of "pleasing" or "agenda" that infests public voices. At least in nine out of ten times that he may have been called upon to do so.
As a maverick metaphrast of cricket from within the commentary box, Bhogle had earned unbridled admiration and inspired emulation by many others from beyond this closed world of cricket commentary boxes. It is possible, during this long and front-foot studded innings of his, he has lapsed into periods of play where undue respect has been accorded to various players - champions and part-timers - at the expense of immediate scoring rate demands and opportunities. Such might have added to the weight against his popularity, but easily could have been a long-term strategy in the interest of the innings, and therefore, of the commentary team.
In the past, Harsha has ducked when the ball could have been pulled or hooked over the boundary with Punterian ferocity. We must be considerate and attribute this too to an overall strategy in the team's interest. But he played a perfect straight drive a week ago, one that was immaculately correct and stunningly precise. I speak about his article titled The last we've seen of India's old middle order posted at Cricinfo.
I quote an extract from Harsha's :-
We are not talking of scraps of paper, more like authoritative works of reference. These are players who have given much joy, made you proud to belong. You looked into the distance and imagined them playing for you. It is understandable that you want to linger a while in your assessment, look once more. It must not be so, for sport is meant to be tough, but with the very special, the heart rules. It is never easy to sit in judgement over those whose feet you sat by. Rahul Dravid and VVS Laxman and Sachin Tendulkar are names that will bring a sigh in old age when even the first glass of wine is untouched.
But the series is over, a series that could mark the beginning of a resurgent Australia and an uncertain India. There is no Test cricket for India for a while. It is time to peer into their future, to wonder if a spring will indeed follow this autumn.
- Harsha Bhogle in "The last we've seen of India's old middle order" at Cricinfo
The applause here for Bhogle's article is not just because it agrees with my oft stated views but because the opinions are "more significant" when it comes from the man who has expressed them in a very special way. A touch of Laxman, Dravid and Tendulkar in his article.
Doesn't look like many agree at this moment though, but this fabulous series is indeed over.