A tweet from Sanjay Manjrekar around mid-evening on Tuesday kicked off a controversy. “Sundar, I have now been kicked off from studio for Ind/Aus by star. Don’t you think this is a bit harsh? I have a contract with them,” tweeted the former India batsman-turned-TV pundit to IPL CEO Sundar Raman.
Manjrekar, however, quickly deleted the tweet and tried to do some damage control with another tweet that read: “A tweet that I deleted immediately has become a bit of a talking point. It was a segment of a private chat that erroneously got onto twitter.”
Interestingly, Manjrekar didn’t deny his earlier tweet. It appears unlikely that he will be part of the commentary panel for the limited-overs series between India and Australia that starts with a T20 international in Rajkot on Thursday and will be followed by seven ODIs.
When contacted by The Indian Express, Raman said that if anything had happened it was between the host broadcaster, STAR, and Manjrekar.
“The BCCI in no way is involved with this. The BCCI produces the world feed of the English commentary, but the Hindi commentary is the STAR’s own production. In any case, the host broadcaster has the right to pick and choose. It doesn’t matter whether someone is contracted with the BCCI or not. They can decide whom to select and whom not to,” said Raman.
The BCCI reportedly has strict dos and don’ts for the commentators. The commentary team is reportedly barred from criticising Indian team selection, advocating the Decision Review System and discussing about the BCCI’s administrative affairs.
According to a Hindustan Times report, former Australia captain Ian Chappell refused a place on the commentary panel because he disagreed with the terms and conditions set by the BCCI.
“I was invited by ESPN to do commentary. I emailed back asking who I was working for and the reply was; I was contracted by ESPN but I would be subject to BCCI restrictions,” Chappell told HT. “I emailed back to ask what these restrictions were and was told; ‘I couldn’t talk about Indian selection, DRS or administrative matters. I responded saying I didn’t feel I could do my job properly under those circumstances and therefore declined the offer.”
According to one commentator, such restrictions aren’t part of the official contract. “It’s not a diktat or anything,” he said. Some BCCI officials, however, say that since they now produce the content, they won’t let commentators criticise them or their policies.
As far as Manjrekar’s case is concerned, a story is doing the rounds is that the BCCI wanted him to express his opinion exclusively for them on TV and stop writing for a cricket website. Manjrekar is tight-lipped on the issue except for his tweets. When contacted, STAR refused to comment.