Among all the decisions to make around the IPL, the BCCI has another one: in its inbox are two emails from Sanjay Manjrekar, who has sought reinstatement to the board"s panel of commentators. Manjrekar says he will apologise if he has unwittingly offended anyone and will follow any guidelines the BCCI may set. He had tweeted in March this year that he had been dropped from the BCCI"s commentary team and that he accepted the decision as a professional.
In the emails, Manjrekar has, while pointing to his track record as a key member of commentary panels, referred to possible reasons for his exclusion, while also expressing that he was shocked and hurt to hear of the decision.
"I have publicly maintained that - the BCCI are my employers and they have every right to either have me or not, in their commentary panel. I have never considered being on a commentary panel an entitlement," Manjrekar wrote in the email addressed to the BCCI"s Apex Council. "But here, amongst a small circle of important stakeholders of Indian cricket, friends and colleagues, please allow me to open my heart.
"I was greatly hurt! Especially because this came as a real shock! Until this moment, I had been the leading commentator on the BCCI panel for many years fulfilling some of the biggest responsibilities there are in live broadcasting: lead commentator, post-match awards presenter, hosting the toss, doing player interviews and yes, impromptu BCCI functions on ground too. I am also one of the first Indian commentators that gets rostered for the World Cups by the ICC. I did my job with great pride and a 100 per cent commitment and suddenly not found to be good enough to be in the panel was a big jolt.
"[...] this sacking for whatever reason, has shaken my confidence as a professional. If unwittingly, I have offended anyone I would be happy to apologise to the concerned party," he said.
The speculation around Manjrekar being dropped from the roster was that it had been a result of his calling Ravindra Jadeja a "bits-and-pieces cricketer" during an interview with a news agency last year, and he refers to the incident in his letter to the BCCI while pointing out that it was neither made on air, nor over Twitter. Jadeja had reacted to this comment through a tweet directed at Manjrekar, saying he was "tired of your verbal diarrhoea" and also gesticulated at the commentary box when he made a fifty during last year"s World Cup semi-final against New Zealand. Following that, and an aggressive backlash from fans, Manjrekar had acknowledged on the post-match broadcast that Jadeja had "ripped him apart on all fronts" and proved him wrong.
"By bits "n" pieces of sheer brilliance, he"s ripped me apart on all fronts."@sanjaymanjrekar has something to say to @imjadeja after the all-rounder"s fantastic performance against New Zealand.#INDvNZ | #CWC19 pic.twitter.com/i96h5bJWpE— ICC (@ICC) July 10, 2019
Manjrekar said that he had been told by a "senior office bearer" around the time of being dropped that some players had issues with him as a commentator, and that made the job "tricky".
"If we are not seen praising the iconic players all the time, the fans of those players tend to assume that we are antagonistic towards the players they worship," he wrote.
"That"s the professional hazard we have to live with doing our job. Anyone who has followed my career as a commentator would know that I have no malicious agenda against anyone and that my opinions come from a very pure place that I hold sacred. It"s cricket we are talking about, a sport that"s given me and my father so much.
"My comments and opinions could be wrong, but they are never personal, derogatory or borne out of prejudice or cunning design, I am only biased towards excellence in performances, whether it"s a team or a player."
In support of that, Manjrekar attached an audio clip of the interview excerpt and told the Apex Council members that they would find the comment "benign" if they consumed the comment in context, and that ""bits and pieces" is a cricketing term commonly used for cricketers who are non-specialists". He also indicated that he and Jadeja have since made peace about the issue privately.
In a follow-up communication with the BCCI, Manjrekar has expressed his willingness to follow any guidelines they might propose as he sought to be reinstated to the bcci.tv production team, saying that "last time may be there was not enough clarity".
Disclaimer: Sanjay Manjrekar is a regular contributor to ESPNcricinfo"s coverage