Without going any further into the recent spat between Ravindra Jadeja and Sanjay Manjrekar, let's first understand what really happened between the two. Manjrekar was asked whether he would prefer Jadeja over Kuldeep Yadav or Yuzvendra Chahal. He said, 'I would rather have a spinner and a batsman than a bits and pieces player like Jadeja.' This prompted Jadeja to publically go against Manjrekar as he referred to his comments as "verbal diarrhea" amid a defiant call for respect. Here is the screenshot of the tweet that is doing the rounds on the internet:
Gone are the days when the working of the media was a one-way affair. Now, criticizing journalists and people from the media is the latest trend. And Sanjay Manjrekar is the newest victim of this practice. Such antagonism is certainly not pleasant, especially during an ongoing world cup campaign. Fans have openly demanded the exclusion from the panel of commentators in the world cup. People are even claiming to look at his own records first and then question others. Yes, Manjrekar's "bits and pieces" comment was way too much for a player like Jadeja. But it was not all wrong in the context of his career. Even after playing 150-plus ODIs, he is not able to prove himself as a specialist in batting or bowling. And Hardik Pandya is a much better option for the all-rounder spot.
Here are some reasons why the netizens glorifying Jadeja for his tweet is just not justified:
Sanjay Manjrekar is a better batsman than given credit for: Having an average of 37.14 in tests is not something out of the world. But it is not that bad back then in the 90s. In fact, he had one of the most sound techniques in his time and was referred to as "the wall" before Rahul Dravid owned it. He scored a brilliant hundred versus West Indies in 1989 against the likes of Curtly Ambrose, Courtney Walsh, Ian Bishop, and Malcolm Marshall. He scored more than 500 runs when India visited Pakistan that same year, which included a double hundred against Imran Khan and company. He played a match-saving knock against Zimbabwe in 1994 and allowed India to avoid embarrassment in their first ever test encounter. Alas, you can say that he was a case of talent unfulfilled. In a world where failed cricketers have become top coaches, why can't Manjrekar with a better profile be a commentator?
He is the need of the hour: If we were to sack every man who had a critical assessment of our favourite stars, we would be left with a bunch of yes-men agreeing with every popular opinion. And Losing the freedom to express their own views in public. Jadeja stresses that he has played more matches than Manjrekar and thus, the 53-year-old is no-one to criticize his importance in the team. Is this the criteria for a proper commentator? Hardly anyone would qualify to analyse the game and criticize their star players. And if there is some criteria, he has certainly passed them all to reach where he is today. Manjrekar was the first one to openly criticize the slow strike rates of MS Dhoni. And meanwhile, becoming a target for his fans across the globe. Thus, Sanjay Manjrekar is the need of the hour in this cricketing world where biases thump honesty in the commentary box.
Manjrekar is one of the best in the business: One of the most intelligent, insightful and analytical commentators in the cricketing fraternity is Sanjay Manjrekar. He studies the game more deeply and is a perfectionist in his job. He is a highly respected figure across the world. Although many of his opinions go against the popular consensus, he always makes a point or two in his sayings. We do need contrarians in the media who provide an alternative perspective. It certainly enriches the debate. The third-rated jokes and clever word-play of Sehwag and bombast of Shastri is more attractive than deep understanding and intellectual honesty of Sanjay Manjrekar. We, as true cricket fans, need to appreciate the latter more.
There is a larger issue of lack of humility in newer brands of cricketers and popularity is measured by their social media presence. And for Jadeja, let's only keep the ball and bat do the talking. Bring the cup back home!