'It took me half a second to agree,' says Charu Sharma on playing auctioneer for IPL
...says cricket commentator Charu Sharma, who speaks to CE about how he had to suddenly substitute for Hugh Edmeades in the IPL auctions 2022
It was past afternoon and Charu Sharma was having lunch with his family on February 12, when the Mega IPL Auction 2022 was taking place in Bengaluru. Just as he was savouring dessert, Sharma got a call from the chairman of IPL, Brijesh Patel. Sharma thought the reason for the call was to discuss cricket administration, but it turned out to be something else. Patel requested him to fill in for the role of auctioneer Hugh Edmeades who encountered a health emergency during the proceedings. All it took Sharma was ‘half a second’ to agree, 15 minutes to drive down to ITC Gardenia and another 15 minutes to be briefed about his responsibilities for the remainder of the auction day.
Although Sharma is no stranger to the role of an auctioneer, it was, however, his first IPL Mega Auction. “I knew the auctions were taking place here, but I hadn’t tuned in to follow up what was going on. It was a call from Brijesh and I had to respond to an emergency. I was physically available, and auctioneering is a significant part of who I am...So I immediately rushed,” says Sharma, who works as a professional auctioneer for Bid and Hammer, a Bengaluru-based auction house, and has conducted auctions for the Karnataka Premier League and other sporting events.
For someone, who was not part of IPL commentary and the auction proceedings, to be able to steer the mega event smoothly, was no easy task even though Sharma has decades of experience in the cricketing business. “Auctioneering is not complicated, but you need your adrenaline flowing and understand what’s going on,” says the 62-year-old, who is the director of the Pro Kabaddi League. As curtains came down on the auction, netizens were all praises for Sharma for taking charge at the last minute. “It has been heartwarming to receive such messages. The assignment itself was unexpected and so were the reactions,” says Sharma.
Talking about his ‘breakup’ with big-time cricket commentary, Sharma chuckles and says, “I never wanted to move away from that. Only channels can answer as to why I have not done some top-level cricket work in the past few years. I can only say my phone number has not changed.”
If he’s not behind the mic, Sharma is mountaineering and trekking. Despite a shoulder tear during his previous trek at Kathmandu, during the Nepal Premier League, he is still planning to trek in Uttarakhand in May.
“I am a person of multiple interests. In fact, I have been reeling under a terrible shoulder tear during my trek in Kathmandu and undergoing physiotherapy for many months. I feel guilty if I am not ambitious. I am now taking up age-appropriate sports like golf and tennis. I am first a sportsman and then a commentator,” says Sharma, adding, “By some miracle, if I am called to do some IPL commentary, I might have to readjust my plans.”
Sharma quit his corporate job in the mid-’80s to take up a commentator’s role for Doordarshan in Kolkata for the 1982 Asian Games. “I had a regular corporate job going, until some of my friends nudged me to audition for the commentary on DD. Back then I had felt being a TV commentator was not something I wanted to do for a living. But anyway, I got pushed into it. And my salary as a commentator was C200 for a day’s work,” says Sharma, who was a professional diver and has also dabbled in many sports, including athletics, swimming, water polo, gymnastics, tennis, golf and also cricket.