Well known commentator Sanjay Manjrekar draws much more attention, of a negative kind, than he deserves. It has become quite trendy to criticise him even though he happens to be one of the most insightful and dedicated experts of the game.
Now, in the latest controversy surrounding him, a Twitter handle called 'Trendulkar' shared an old Tweet of Manjrekar from January 2012 which, according to the person behind this handle, shows the commentator claiming that Virat Kohli is not good enough to be a player in international Test cricket.
The tweet reads like this: "I would still drop VVS (Laxman) and get Rohit (Sharma) in for next Test. Makes long term sense. Give Virat (Kohli) one more test. Just to be sure he does not belong here." This comment was posted on January 6, 2012. Trendulkar wrote "This is the tweet of the decade for me."
A lot of people have reacted to this old tweet and have poked fun at Manjrekar. Many have done the usual thing of criticizing him and claiming that this tweet shows how bad a commentator and expert he is.
However, the reality is completely different and is being thoroughly ignored by most who have read this tweet. To understand what Manjrekar means, one has to go all the way back to the time when this comment was made.
It was during India's ill-fated tour of Australia in 2011/12. The first two Tests of the 4-match series – Boxing day Test at Melbourne and New Year's Test at Sydney - had been lost by India without much fight. The senior Indian batsmen like VVS Laxman and Rahul Dravid were coming to the end of their careers, as was Sachin Tendulkar.
Earlier in 2011, India had succumbed to a whitewash at the hands of England in England and the same fate awaited the team in Australia. The utter listlessness of the performance had Indian fans thoroughly worried. At this time, Manjrekar was strongly arguing for the Indian team to move away from senior players and give chances to youngsters like Kohli and Rohit.
Kohli's early travails
Now, Kohli had made his Test debut in 2011 in West Indies and had done poorly in that series. He was dropped from the Test team. But, the Delhi lad returned to the Test XI for India's final Test before the Australia tour – against West Indies at Mumbai. Though he got two fifties, it was still a disappointing performance due to him not going on to help his team.
Like most other Indian batsmen, Kohli failed in the first two Tests of the series in Australia and many felt he should be dropped again. On the other hand, Rohit was yet to make his Test debut. The tweet in question actually shows Manjrekar asking the Indian team to continue to show their faith in Kohli and not drop him just after two Tests.
And guess what? The commentator proved to be right! In the next Test at Perth, while the Indian team suffered a humiliating defeat, Kohli proved his class by playing two very good innings and looking like India's best batsman on show. So, the tweet of Manjrekar shows how right he was and not otherwise. His detractors need to realise this and not demonize him unfairly.