Incidents when commentators sparked off controversies on-air

If reports are to believed, the renowned TV Commentator Sanjay Manjrekar has been sacked by BCCI following his recent altercations with different people and people’s outrage over his bias for the players of certain regions. However, we are still waiting for any official report before confirming this news.

Manjrekar has been a part of lots of controversies during his commentary career with two of them coming in the last year itself.  Although it is neither the first nor the last time comments made by people sitting in the commentary box have gone on to cause troubles for them. Let’s take a look at some of the most famous ones in detail.

The terrorist has got another wicket

Incidents when commentators sparked off controversies on-air

Famous Australian commentator Dean Jones who was covering a match between South Africa and Sri Lanka on Ten Sports back in 2006 was sacked after his terrorist remark for Hashim Amla generated a lot of angry reactions from public. Hashim Amla, a devoted Muslim took the catch of Kumar Sangakkara and Jones in his commentary stint was heard saying ” the terrorist has got another wicket “.

This racial stereotyped comment irked people all over the world as it wasn’t just limited to cricket. Jones’ reason behind making that insensitive remark was the beard Amla had at that time. Dean later apologized for his comments.”It was a silly and completely insensitive thing to say and, obviously, it was never supposed to be heard over the air. I am truly sorry to have caused offence to anybody and the last thing I intended was to be disrespectful.”  The apology made no short term effect as he was immediately fired by the broadcasters.

Sanjay Manjrekar’s brawl with Harsha Bhogle

Incidents when commentators sparked off controversies on-air

During India’s first Pink Ball Test played at Kolkata, Sanjay Manjrekar, who had to ask questions in the post match presentation didn’t like Harsha Bhogle’s idea of ” post-mortem ” of the pink ball as his arrogant reply ” You need to ask perhaps, for us, those who have played the game, we have a fair idea of what’s happening out there ” which was more a jibe at Harsha for not having played cricket didn’t go down well with cricket aficionados for valid reasons. Bhogle was still adamant on his point and he dealt with the issue in a much professional way than his colleague.

He ended the discussion with a very logical conclusion “ having played cricket should never be a limitation or a ceiling to learning”. People took to twitter to show their disappointment and ask for an apology from Manjrekar who eventually came up with an unconditional apology few weeks later saying it was very unprofessional of him.

Nasser Hussain and his ” Donkey ” comment

Incidents when commentators sparked off controversies on-air

Renowned English commentator Nasser Hussain is highly respected for his knowledge and opinion about the game but he too faced the heat way back in 2011 when he compared Indian fielders with Donkey.

India was going through a horrid time when they toured England after winning the World Cup in 2011. They lost all 4 Tests & hence the number 1 ranking and failed to win any limited over match either. During the one off T20, India’s abject fielding didn’t please Nasser and he ended up saying

I would say the difference between the two side is the fielding. England are an all-round good fielding side. I do believe that India have few…3 or 4 very good fielders and one or two donkeys in the field still 

This created a huge outrage over media outlets and fans across India and BCCI had to take the matters with ECB. Nasser though, was surprised at the reaction his comment generated as he believed that what he said was just a casual slang referred to describe vapid work in common life, not just cricket and people should have taken it with some sense of humor. Nasser’s explanation was not very welcomed in India but it was not entirely junk. It was somewhat hypocritical of Indians who equate mortal cricketers with god to get offended by someone comparing Munaf Patel, Praveen Kumar and Parthiv Patel to a donkey.

What right does Nasser have?

Incidents when commentators sparked off controversies on-air

During the same 2011 tour as above, when Nasser Hussain showed his disappointment over India not agreeing to use DRS by calling it ” disgraceful “, current Indian coach and then a very popular commentator Ravi Shastri questioned his authority to speak as such. He also accused English press & fans to be jealous of certain things associated with Indian cricket. Things like IPL, India’s position in world cricket (India went to England as number 1 Test team) and how much money India makes in cricket were his reasons why cricket loving English adults could be jealous of India.

Later in the box, when these two had an encounter, Nasser reminded him of how much he was fond of DRS and the rights he had earned after playing over 90 Tests for England. He also went on to say that he gets paid for voicing his opinion and nobody would be more proud than him to see India doing well in cricket. Not sure how much genuine the last line was but this was one fiery battle to watch.

Should I head back home?

Incidents when commentators sparked off controversies on-air

This is what former West Indies cricketer and currently a commentator, Michael Holding asked ICC when he received an email from ICC to tone down his voice and not to focus on umpiring errors so much. Holding described umpiring as ” atrocious ” after the Australia vs West Indies World cup game in 2019 World cup in which WI had to be on the receiving end to a number of poor umpiring calls.Holding hit back at ICC by saying

If those umpires yesterday were FIFA officials, they would have been told to pack their bags and head home. They would not have been given another World Cup game to officiate. As a former cricketer, I think cricket should be held to a higher standard. Is the objective to protect the umpires even when they do a bad job? I am sorry, but I am not going to be part of that. Please let me know if I should be heading back to my home in Newmarket instead of heading to Cardiff because I don’t agree with what is being suggested here and happy not being part of it.

The reply from Holding raised some eyebrows during the WC which was also famous for poor standard of umpiring which continued till the final.

Please talk more about Indian players

Incidents when commentators sparked off controversies on-air

Even though a commentator’s job is to stay neutral and talk about all the facets of the game without any prejudice, legendary Bollywood actor Amitabh Bachchan didn’t seem to be happy with how Harsha Bhogle didn’t appreciate Indian players as much as he should have.

During the WT20 2016, he tweeted his concern which was also supported by then Indian captain Mahendra Singh Dhoni who expressed the same disliking with his commentary. He quoted Amitabh’s tweet with ” Nothing to add “which added a lot of weight to the criticism.

However, both of them didn’t take his name openly but whom they were talking about was very much evident. As a result, Harsha had to lose his contract and he wasn’t able to commentate for around a year.

I don’t like Bits and pieces cricketers

Incidents when commentators sparked off controversies on-air

Sanjay Manjrekar has a love affair with creating controversies with his mouth. This though, must be the funniest of all the stories written in this piece. After Sanjay Bangar, Indian batting coach in 2019 WC indicated about Ravindra Jadeja’s inclusion in the playing 11, Sanjay Manjrekar expressed his opinion over the issue.

I am not a big fan of bits and pieces players which Jadeja is at this point of his career in 50-over cricket. In Test matches, he is a pure bowler. But in 50-over cricket, I would rather have a batsman and a spinner.

Jadeja though, didn’t like this statement as he took to twitter to remind Manjrekar that he is fed up of the verbal diarrhoea Manjrekar keeps producing. The whole matter was ridiculed as people saw the funnier side of it and ‘ Bits & pieces ‘ became a hot word throughout the World Cup.

Kevin Pietersen is a C***

Incidents when commentators sparked off controversies on-air

Ex England captain Andrew Strauss was crucified by viewers as he used C word for his former teammate Kevin Pietersen during his commentary stint when MCC and Rest of the world were playing a friendly match at Lords in 2014. Strauss called KP a cunt on air thinking what he was saying wouldn’t reach the public as he used those words about KP during an over break.

Fox Sports though, has had a long time policy of No ad-breaks during play and hence the Australian viewers caught his words. Strauss, who had a very stiff relationship with Pietersen apologized to him and the viewers when he became aware of the situation.

 I apologise unreservedly, particularly to Kevin Pietersen. I am mortified and profusely sorry.

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