The latest episode involves Indian cricketer Ravindra Jadeja lashing out at Manjrekar for his comments on him.

Why Sanjay Manjrekars commentary is riling up players and fans alike
Cricket WC 2019 CWC 2019 Thursday, July 04, 2019 - 18:09

Sanjay Manjrekar, former Indian cricketer, has found himself at the receiving end of severe criticism from Indian cricket fans over the last few days. The reason — his alleged biased commentary during the ICC World Cup and his habit of expressing his opinion during matches.

On Tuesday night, all-rounder Ravindra Jadeja lashed out at Sanjay Manjrekar on Twitter. “Still I have played twice the number of matches you have played and i m still playing. Learn to respect ppl who have achieved. I have heard enough of your verbal diarrhoea. @sanjaymanjrekar,” Jadeja tweeted. The tweet, which has got more than 40,000 retweets as on Wednesday evening stemmed from some unpleasant remarks Manjrekar had made against Jadeja ahead of India’s match against Bangladesh on Tuesday.

“I am not a big fan of bits and pieces players which Jadeja is at this point of his career in 50-overs cricket. In Test matches, he is a pure bowler. But in 50-overs cricket, I would rather have a batsman and a spinner,” Manjrekar had opined on the eve of the game against Bangladesh. Explaining further, he said that he would retain Kuldeep Yadav and Yuzvendra Chahal in the team for that game despite their poor show in the previous match than choose to play Jadeja.

'Biased' commentary

Even before the current storm against him, Manjrekar has been in the news for his alleged ‘biased’ commentary. The popular opinion among fans has been that he shows favouritism towards players from Mumbai. This bias was highlighted like never before during the 2019-edition of IPL, when he was slammed for openly supporting Mumbai Indians and specifically its captain Rohit Sharma.

Some instances of his 'bias' are when he asked CSK's Shane Watson if he felt like running away after facing the first 10 balls of his innings at the post-match presentation of the finals of the 2018-edition of IPL and also suggesting that Dhoni 'stop fooling around during the toss'. In the 2019-edition of the IPL, he was trolled for emphatically declaring Dhoni run out even before the third umpire had reached a decision during the finals against Mumbai Indians.

The ire against Manjrekar then was amplified by irked fans of Chennai Super Kings, whom Mumbai Indians defeated in the IPL finals.

The criticism against him mainly stems from the opinion of the fans that a commentator must remain neutral and add value to the cricket that unfolds in front of them. However, there are no written rules when it comes to commentary. There have been ample examples in international cricket, where commentators have in fact peppered their commentary with anecdotes, suggestions, personal opinions and fun stories to keep the viewer hooked. It is also not mandatory that the commentators need to have a certain number of matches under their belt to have an opinion about the game, team or individual players.

Present controversy

The recent retort from Jadeja has further polarised opinions for and against Sanjay Manjrekar, who again captured everyone’s attention with his views after India lost to England on Sunday.

Sanjay Manjrekar’s tweets after the match caught the eye of Indian cricket fans, particularly those of MS Dhoni. MS Dhoni and Kedhar Jadhav, who were at the crease when India needed 100 runs off the last 10 overs on Sunday, were panned for their slow approach. Dhoni took singles in the death overs and was blamed for not scoring enough boundaries, which ultimately led to India losing the match. 

Minutes after the game ended, Manjrekar tweeted that Dhoni’s approach in match was ‘baffling’. Two days later, Manjrekar was again on Dhoni’s case after India defeated Bangladesh, albeit with a fight. “Here’s something interesting about Dhoni -. 41 off 87 balls v spin this WC. But in the warm up games 69 off 56 balls v spin. That tells me it’s mental too. He does not put his wicket on the line as much in the big games,” he tweeted, adding that India must address a few issues including the ‘Dhoni conundrum’ to become a foolproof team.

These comments against Dhoni were not taken to kindly by the ardent fans of the former India skipper, who began trolling Manjrekar for his commentary. While some tweeted with pictures of their TV screens on mute, some attached a screenshot of flight tickets from London to Mumbai, asking him to return to India. A Change.org petition also began to circulate demanding Manjrekar be removed from the World Cup commentary panel.

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