Cricket books have gained in significance in the Indian market. That’s not only good for the economy, it’s also great for the average Indian fan, who for years, has been deprived of ‘true action’ which unfolds behind the scenes — beyond the runs, wickets, catches and usual controversy.
A recent book launch revealed how Greg Chappell believed that Rahul Dravid’s success was not enjoyed by all his teammates. There is no proof of how much truth there is to this, but it has tickled the reader. It has also forced the opening of palms to accept negative lines of your country’s team and then decide for yourself the level of truth in the controversy.
Chappell also talks about the Dravid-as-captain phase in his autobiography Fierce Focus. It is amazing that Chappell being Chappell, who has always had plenty to say, never wrote an autobiography although Adrian McGregor’s book written in 1985 had the blessings of his subject.
Quite understandably, the Chappell chapter in the book on Dravid got massive publicity. The Australian may not have many backers, but he has done enough to show the kind of strife prevalent in Indian cricket during his tenure. The Indian players cannot be gun shy. They must counter Chappell’s views through books whose shelf value is far greater than the odd quotes piece. Sourav Ganguly has plenty to write about. So do Dravid and Tendulkar and Kumble. Their silence will only pile on to the layers of authenticity in Chappell’s book.
Yuvraj Singh is in the process of writing his memoirs on his cancer illness — a la Lance Armstrong. He’s got a great story to tell.
It will be interesting to see whether Yuvraj’s memoirs will tell us why he made himself available for last year’s tour of England despite being crippled with the illness during the World Cup. He also figured in two Tests against the West Indies towards the end of last year. What one cannot wait to read is about how he coped with his illness and managed to be a hero on the field during the World Cup. Remember, Yuvraj ended up being player of the tournament. That chapter will probably crush the myth that Indian cricketers cannot match the rest of the world when it comes to toughness — both mental and physical.
Talking about books and toughness, I remember Aakash Chopra, the former India opener, an author of two books on cricket, saying after encountering a torrid time after Brett Lee hit him on the head in the Melbourne Test of 2003: “I didn’t want them saying an Indian batsman was scared.” One of the reasons why India did well to deny the all-conquering Australian team a series win was Chopra’s adhesive ways and bravado.
An insightful book from a member of the Indian cricket has not been released (Chopra’s books focussed on domestic cricket) since former coach John Wright wrote Indian Summers. The New Zealander was slammed for for his views on India’s selection policy and his confrontation with Virender Sehwag in England 2002. Sure, controversy helps to sell books. No one should have a problem with that as long as the stories are not fictional.
Cricket writers too need to extend their contribution to the game by way of books. It is a travesty that there is no book to do justice to the writings of India’s best cricket writer, K N Prabhu.
Ron Hendricks could write on any sport. While describing a funny conversation which Indian mediamen were having with former International Olympic Committee chief Avery Brundage a party in New Delhi in the early 1970s, Hendricks wrote: “The titter of laughter rose above the tinkle of ice-cubes in cocktail glasses.”
Like Prabhu, Hendricks doesn’t have a book on his writings.
Clayton Murzello is MiD DAY’s Group Sports Editor