Speculations and angry reactions were flying thick and fast as the BCCI refrained from making an official statement as to what prompted its action to terminate renowned cricket commentator Harsha Bhogle's services from the Indian Premier League (IPL) season 9.
Bhogle confirmed the news about his termination from the season 9 of IPL on social media.
“Would have been nice to be part of @IPL again. Was in fact looking forward to it. Favourite tournament. Hope #IPL9 is a blockbuster,” he tweeted.
Bhogle had been enthralling fans of IPL since it came into being in 2008. What came as a shock to IPL fans was, he was very much part of this year's IPL season as he was in the season 9 auction draft, was enlisted in commentators' duty roster, was in promotional videos and even the production house had booked his flight tickets.
BCCI dropping one of the world's most acclaimed commentators, without an explanation, did not go down well with the Indian cricket fans. There had been a raging debate on social media with many questioning the wisdom of the cash-rich cricket body.
The speculations were also rife that a recent Twitter post by Bollywood megastar Amitabh Bachchan, slamming the commentators, may have influenced the BCCI's decision. Although, the actor didn't name anyone, it was alleged that Bhogle was the target of his criticism.
Bachchan took to twitter to share his observation after India beat Bangladesh by one run in a Bengaluru thriller in just-concluded World Twenty20 tournament.
"With all due respects, it would be really worthy of an Indian commentator to speak more about our players than others all the time," he said in a tweet.
Bachchan's tweet struck a chord with India's limited-over skipper Mahendra Singh Dhoni as he empathetically re-tweeted the actor's post.
Bachchan's tweet was followed by a slew of criticism targeting the commentator(s) with many agreeing with the actor's observation.
@SrBachchan true that sir! The passion and the intensity our team show, just that is enough to show appreciation! Seriously.— Gaurav Chawla (@gauravchawla) March 23, 2016
Reacting to the criticism, Bhogle posted a long-explanation on his Facebook page as to why the Indian cricket commentators cannot be India-centric while doing their job. He also added that he sent a direct message to Bachchan on Twitter explaining what goes on inside the 'box' and why it is important for him to remain neutral while commenting on an ongoing cricket match.
He said in his post that since the English feed is broadcast to the worldwide audience, it creates a necessity for him to remain objective and focus on both playing teams, not just India, just to be fair to fans watching the broadcast across the globe.
While the BCCI officials chose to keep their lips sealed on the matter, an unidentified official was quoted in media on possible reason behind Bhogle's ouster.
“When deciding the commentators, we take feedback from everyone. We monitor social media reactions on commentators, and also take inputs from players,” a BCCI official said according to The Indian Express.
Many on Twitter speculated that Bachchan's tweet had something to do with Bhogle's removal from season 9.
Not sure if Bhogle's ouster has anything to do with either Dhoni or Big B, but if it is so, guys you're taking things too far.— Roflindian (@Roflindian) April 10, 2016
Let Harsha Bhogle's example be a lesson to all those Umpires who give decision against India. Deshdrohis beware! We are watching!— Shirish Kunder (@ShirishKunder) April 10, 2016
There is no clarity, however, whether or not the social media debate started by Bachchan's tweet contributed to exit of Bhogle.
Some media reports have also claimed that Bhogle had a heated exchange with the BCCI officials in Nagpur recently, which is also suspected to be a contributing factor to his ouster.