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Harsha really Unplugged

This time, Harsha Bhogle was fielding the questions posed by K. PRADEEP. Now, read on...

LIKE THE Ancient Mariner, he can hold one spellbound for hours with his talk. When Harsha Bhogle begins to talk you cannot but sit and listen. What makes him the country's top cricket commentator is the passion that he imparts to the game. "You need to have that love for the game to speak about it. It is not all about talking about the game and forgetting about it once it is over. We spend so many hours after a game discussing and debating about the game we had talked the whole day about," says the ESPN Star Sports commentator.

It was this passion that drove Harsha, who once represented Osmania University in cricket, the less beaten path of broadcasting after his IIM stint. "This was not a career option those days at all. During those days I did do a bit of radio commentary, wrote about the game, travelled to many countries footing the expenses myself and sending cricket reports to different newspapers, till ESPN came on to the scene sometime in 1995. They were looking for an Indian face and said it would be me. And that was how it all began."

He had his teething problems, especially when hosting live shows with two or more stars thrown in. This was when he had to have the earphones in place and listen to numerous instructions from the producers and all the while keep himself focussed on the ongoing conversation. "In the beginning it was tough. There used to be so many voices, so many instructions. Now, I have learned to regard that part of my body, pounded with instructions, as separate. There is a tendency to listen and stop talking."

To stop talking is what Harsha hates. Listen to him on the popular shows like Harsha Online or Harsha Unplugged and see you favourite sportsmen squirm and swirl, unable to face the volley of questions from him. But there have been those rare occasions when Harsha felt he was woefully short of words. "It has never happened with the young group. Of course, there were occasions, like when I had to talk to my childhood idol Nawab of Pataudi Jr. and then to Viv Richards, who is infamous for his temper. With Pataudi I decided not to hide that feeling of awe I had for this great cricketer. His answers were short and crisp. I even felt running out of questions. That show came out different. Richards was in such a fine mood that he talked a lot."

Now, Harsha spends the best part of his time with ESPN and the little time he manages to squeeze in is spent on corporate lectures. "I assist my wife, Anita, who runs this consultancy. Most of these lectures relate to the relevance of sports in management."

If there is one thing that Harsha plans to do in future is to compile all his available articles into a book. "In a few years time I will slowly cut short on my assignments. Then, I would love to take a cricket tour, to all the places where the game is played. This time not as a commentator, but as a writer, meeting people, observing life there." This then, along with his articles, could form interesting reading.

But nothing is more engrossing than Harsha's chatter.

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