Aptly described as 'India's first non-playing cricket celebrity',
Harsha Bhogle has captured the entire gamut of Indian cricket
in his weekly column in the Indian Express: from the advent of
Dhoni to the decline of the Fab Four: from the art of coaching
the Indian team to the BCCI’s money-mindedness: from
cricketers shooting commercials Just before a match to the
nail-biting finish of many an IPL clash. Out of the Box brings
together the very best of Harsha's writing, In a book that will
be a veritable delight to any cricket fan. This new and revised
edition contains thirty new pieces, going up to India's World
Cup win and the appointment of Duncan Fletcher as coach.
Knowledgeable, frank and witty, and with a sense of drama
comparable to that of cricket itself, Harsha is a master at
evoking the many moods of the game. From suspect bowling
actions to shorter boundaries, from the four bowlers vs five
debate to the controversy over the rotation policy, from the
heroics of Virat Kohli and Suresh Raina to Anil Kumble's 600th
scalp, he brings the nation's cricketing ethos inimitably to life.
And he is at his best when paying tribute to cricketing greats:
Lara, Jayasuriya, Ganguly, Laxman, Dravid, Sehwag and the
As he follows India's fortunes on the cricket field at home and
overseas, Harsha asks the question that is on everyone's lips
today: can India really be no. 1 in all three forms of the game?
The answer lies in our history-and in the pages of Out of
the Box, one of the most outstanding books ever written
on cricket in the subcontinent.
Harsha Bhogle is widely recognized as the face and the voice of
Indian cricket. He brings to his profession an unusual set of gifts that
give him a distinct identity in the cricket world. Harsha is many
things: a chemical engineer who graduated from India's number one
business school IIM Ahmedabad, an advertising executive, an iconic
television presenter who spawned a TV reality show called Hunt for
Harsha (Harsha ki Khoj), a commentator who is popular across
cultures, a sensitive talk show host, a corporate motivational speaker
(an enterprise he runs with his wife Anita), and a writer with a great
feel for the game and its actors. A recipient of numerous awards, he
was voted the 'most favourite cricket commentator' in a worldwide
poll of readers of Cricinfo.com in 2008. One of his proudest
possessions is a photograph of a group of spectators in Pakistan
holding a banner that says 'Harsha Bhogle fan club'.
Harsha has been the face of ESPN in India since the day they
went on air in 1995, and presents cricket-and, in an interesting
diversion, the football World Cup in 2006-for ESPN Star Sports.
He has worked on all the major radio stations in the cricketing world
as well, with a special affinity for Australia, which he first visited in
1991-92, where he was dubbed the 'sexiest voice on radio'. He is
close to achieving the double of working on 100 Tests and 400 one-
day internationals, the first of which was in 1983.
Originally from Hyderabad, and still enamoured of the flavour
of the city, Harsha lives in Mumbai in a close-knit family with his
wife Anita (an IIM Ahmedabad alumna) and sons Chinmay and
The first time I met Harsha was when he interviewed me
for a sports magazine when I was fourteen. I vividly
remember that evening. We sat on one of the pitches in
Shivaji Park and the interview slowly transformed into a
larger discussion on cricket. Having seen Harsha grow
over the years as a commentator and presenter, I am in
high spirits as I write this introduction.
Cricket as a sport is a passion for millions in our
country and here is an individual who chose to be different
to the extent that he envisioned a career path which was
unknown to many even a few years ago.
Harsha epitomizes what you can achieve if you really
put your heart and soul into a cause. Despite his self-
confessed dreams of playing for India not materializing, he
has still managed to stay connected to the game and
contribute substantially over the years to our understanding
When you meet Harsha, first things you notice are hi
sense of humour and his keen eye for detail-not to
mention his infectious laughter. On a more serious note, I
have come to realize that speaking to him sometimes opens
up completely different perspectives in addition to the ones
I already have. He has a high cricketing acumen, which has
not only helped him carve a niche identity, but also sustain
himself in the television commentary space amongst legends
of the game.
I'm sure this book will not only inspire readers to chase
their own dreams but also empower them with the best
practices on how to lead the field and become world-class
in their professional life.
Wishing him lots of luck,
The box has been my identity and my boundary. It has
given me opportunities I could not have dreamed of,
introduced me to some lovely people and allowed me to be
part of some beautiful moments, but more than anything
else it has allowed me to enter people's houses and,
sometimes, become friends with them.
Television can be a very powerful medium, but it can
also be limiting. The escalation of television rights means
commercial intrusion is inevitable. You have to be precise,
a quick jab with a word or a comment, and out before the
break. You can't paint a picture with someone waiting to
take the brush away. That is the reality of modern television,
and commentators must adapt.
But with a laptop in front of you, and an empty screen,
you can reflect, ponder aloud over issues, fret over a word,
erase it, dab a little more colour here, a little detail there
and present a finished product that is yours, and yours
alone. While television rewards spontaneity, the written
word demands weightiness. It is a completely different
genre but one that is crippled by insensitivity to words.
Words are a writer's wand and his weapon. They
evoke feelings and paint pictures for the reader. They must
be respected. Not everyone can write like Peter Roebuck or
Rohit Brijnath, but, even in our limited sphere, we must
use words carefully, not toss them around. Good cricketers
we write about don't offer just any shot to a ball. So too
must cricket writers pick words they believe are most
appropriate. Peter once told me of the twin loves of his life:
cricket and the English language. They work well together,
certainly in our game which lends itself to fine writing.
Writing a weekly column can present a different
challenge. True, you have the entire week to reflect on
what happens, but inevitably, there is a rush towards the
end. Sometimes the defining moment comes on a Monday,
too early for a Thursday deadline, and so passes you by.
At others it comes late on Thursday evening and you have
to appear weighty and yet spontaneous. But that is part of
the challenge for the columnist and overall it can be fun
and rewarding because you have an address and people
know where to visit you.
I have been very happy with my address at the Indian
Express. They have been good to me, have honoured my
only request which was not to edit my pieces, because then
they wouldn't be mine any more. And now they do me the
honour of putting together a selection from all that I have
written for them into this anthology. It means a lot to me.
Being in cricket has been a mighty blessing, this makes it
Over the years some of what I have written is still
relevant, some of it has withered with time. So do look
upon this book as a collection of snapshots, some fresh,
some dated, hopefully pleasantly. You cannot always cater
to the immediate and aspire for posterity.
I'd like to thank Shekhar Gupta for this. He called me
some years ago, we agreed in the first couple of minutes on
the column, and talked cricket for a long time after that.
His sports editors have since become friends. First the
football-loving, jovial Jayaditya Gupta, followed by Ajay
Shankar, who knows all that is happening in Indian
cricket, and then Kunal Pradhan, who brings a fine style to
his own writing.
And I would like to thank Sachin Tendulkar. He has
given me so much pleasure over the years and not once has
he behaved like the massive star he is. And now he has
honoured me deeply by writing an introduction to this
I hope cricket grows stronger because it has defined
our existence, certainly mine, for so many years, whether
in the box or out of it.
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