A sport does not only involve players. Many others are associated with it. Cricket is no different. From writers to broadcasting crew, all helps in making the ‘gentleman’s game’ what it is today.
One such name who is a very prominent figure in the field of cricket media is Mr. Sarang Bhalerao. Sarang is currently working as a producer for Star Sports and even has a prior experience of writing many famous pieces on cricket.
Cricmaze presents an interview in which Sarang talks about his journey, career in media and even shares valuable advice for the budding writers.
First of all, thank you for accepting our invitation. To begin with, please tell me what prompts you to give your valuable time to websites like Cricmaze?
My pleasure connecting with passionate people and happy to see the growth of Cricmaze.
You started your professional career with a job in the IT sector at Infosys. What drove you towards the field of cricket?
I played cricket at a junior level and always considered it as recreation, not something I wanted to pursue a career in. I gave importance to academics and opted to do engineering, which has always been considered a “safe option for a secure future.”
I joined Infosys in 2010 when global recession had severely hit the market. I felt lucky to start my career with a reputed company like Infosys and learnt a lot in my time there.
I always loved cricket and somehow it was tough to not watch the live matches since work took the centrestage. I used to play cricket during the weekend and was part of the Infosys cricket team. That was main driving force for 2.5 years.
The turning point was when I did well at a cricket quiz held at Infosys. Several people pointed out what was going on in my mind for a while: why was I wasting my time in the IT sector. That’s when I decided that the time was ripe for chasing my dreams. It also helped that I was just 24 and had time to experiment with my career path.
You started your career in cricket as a writer. You wrote many wonderful pieces that gave you fame as well. But when did you really decide that you want to go ahead as a producer?
I wrote to express my passion for the sport. I thank Cricket Country for giving me the platform at the start of my media career. I wrote features, statistical pieces, ‘Moments in History’ and opinion pieces. My editor Mr H Natarajan also encouraged me to learn video production. I wrote scripts and was also in front of the camera for a videos.
My aim was to improve my knowledge and writing skills. In the process, I was lucky that a few of my pieces were well-received. The turning point in my writing career came with the listicle, 25 Amazing Cricket Facts That’ll Blow Your Mind. That went viral and soon after that, I got an offer from Star Sports.
At this point, I was apprehensive about joining a sports channel as I had no prior broadcast experience but decided that I should take the plunge. That move paid off. I grew my skillset, met many inspiring professionals and made lifelong connections.
All of us have our favourite cricketers. Who is yours and can you tell the qualities of his/her you would like to possess?
There is no one favourite cricketer. I have admired a lot of cricketers. Growing up Sachin Tendulkar was my idol. I’d love to be as insightful in my field as Sachin was with his cricketing observations.
Wasim Akram was another cricketer I admired. Watching him bowl was special. I loved how he would make things happen with the ball on flat tracks.
Can you recall when you first saw a cricket match live in the stadium? How was the experience?
This wasn’t an international game but it was Mumbai playing Baroda in the 1994 Ranji Trophy season in RCF Ground in Chembur. I got to witness Sachin Tendulkar’s 175 but I do not remember a lot. I was too young to remember much.
I had the privilege of watching Sachin Tendulkar live, scoring his maiden First-Class double hundred against the visiting Australians at the Brabourne Stadium in 1998 before the Test series. I still remember the moment when Sachin reached his double hundred, it was a tight run. I thought he was run out on 199. When I realised he was not out, my joy knew no bounds.
You are working as a producer in Star Sports. Please share your experience of working there.
The amount I have learned and grown in Star Sports is immeasurable. I have enjoyed every moment at this company. Everyone was so patient with me when I started out when I had no idea about television. We always find ways to better ourselves and the compan and everyone is aligned with that endeavour. I have had the great fortune of meeting several of my childhood heroes, who I went on to work closely with.
Can you recall when you first covered a live sporting event? How does it feel to cover a cricket match in real time?
My first live sporting event was in 2012 India-England Test for a tabloid named Afternoon Dispatch and Courier. I was a student and covered the match from the stands.
When I started working, I covered a lot of First-Class matches and my first international assignment was covering the T20 World Cup in Bangladesh in 2014.
Producing matches from the venue is a completely different experience. I am thankful for all the opportunities. I feel grateful covering cricket from the stadium.
Where do you rate India’s recent triumph at Lord’s?
The Lord’s triumph is surely one of India’s best away wins. It was a hard-fought win where every single member contributed. KL Rahul’s ton in the first innings stood out. For me two partnerships in the second innings really got India back in the game: Cheteshwar Pujara-Ajinkya Rahane’s 4th wicket partnership and Mohammed Shami and Jasprit Bumrah’s 89-run stand for the 9th wicket. To bowl England out in 52 overs is a stellar achievement.
Special mention to the Indian pace attack: Mohammed Shami, Jasprit Bumrah, Ishant Sharma and ever improving Mohammed Siraj.
How did you fall in love with numbers and stats?
I used to read BCCI Statistical Annuals and maintained a notebook when I was young. When I played junior level cricket, I often knew scores of my teammates and opponents from tournaments they may have played 2-3 years back. I had the habit of writing down things which made me fall in love with statistics and trivia.
Who do you think is a better T20 captain, Virat Kohli or Rohit Sharma?
Both leaders have got different styles and it is unfair to say that one style is better than the other. Virat Kohli brings energy, passion on the field while Rohit Sharma is tactically astute. Has led Mumbai Indians to 5 IPL titles. Kohli and Rohit are two different personalities and it would be unfair to say who is better.
Where do you think India stands in the T20 World Cup 2021? Do they have a realistic chance of lifting the trophy?
I do not think there are any favourites in this T20 World Cup. All the teams have quality players who have a lot of T20 experience.
India will surely be the team to beat in the competition. It has been a case of so near yet so far for India in the ICC events since their Champions Trophy triumph in 2013.
Team India is blessed to have match winners and have the potential to win their 2nd T20 World Cup.
If any budding writer asks for advice, what would you tell him/her?
Read a lot, and start writing. If you’re not writing for any publication, at the least start a blog. To write 300 words, one must read at least 3000 words. Read your piece again and see if you’ve missed on anything. Take feedback constructively and always look at ways to improve. Consistency is the key. Keep writing often and enjoy the process.
Ok, That’s a wrap! It was fun interacting with Mr. Sarang Bhalerao. Cricmaze wishes him well in his future endeavours.