From a player's point of view, the best book is Power of Passion, writes Makarand Waingankar
Of late, cricketing books seem to have caught on the power of controversy marketing. The content is nicely peppered with pointless controversies often risking the authenticity and veracity of facts. If a writer by means of his astute observation and logic throws light on issues and thereby creates a storm, it's worth applauding. But building a pre-launch buzz with the help of scandalous excerpts seems to be the favoured method.
In Shoaib Akhtar's book, there is only a reference of Sachin Tendulkar when he ‘walked' in the Test match like Rahul Dravid did recently in England. But, the Indians, who adore Tendulkar, forced the publishers to cancel book release functions at various places.
The book by former BCCI secretary J.Y. Lele is, in fact, more ‘spicy' but one episode involving the Chairman of the selection committee Kishan Rungta and Tendulkar is totally inaccurate.
Lele quotes Rungta snubbing Tendulkar who purportedly had asked for Nilesh Kulkarni's inclusion when the selectors met after the first Test at Kanpur to pick the team for next Test at Ahmedabad, “Dear skipper, I might have given thought to your recommendation if you had seen him (Nilesh Kulkarni) bowl. Now, let me tell you for your kind information that in the current season, Mumbai has played two Ranji matches and Kulkarni has not played a single. He was dropped from the team. Tell me, how can a player find a place in the national team when he is not found worthy of selection in the local team?”
“Sachin had no answer. The fact was that someone had strongly recommended Kulkarni's name and without cross-checking the records, Sachin blindly put his proposal forth and unfortunately had to cut a sorry figure!” Lele writes.
But here are the facts. The first Test was played at Ahmedabad from Nov. 20 and not at Kanpur, second Test at Kolkata from Nov. 27 and last Test was played at Kanpur.
According to Rungta's version Kulkarni was dropped by Mumbai in two Ranji Trophy matches played at the start of the season. However, Kulkarni played the first Ranji match of the season against Gujarat from Oct. 27 followed by a match against Saurashtra from Nov. 4 and played the third Ranji match against Maharashtra after the series against South Africa was over on Dec. 12.
Kulkarni went on to capture 41 wickets in nine Ranji matches in that season and was selected for the Sri Lanka tour after he had captured 93 first class wickets in three consecutive seasons.
But there are some classics too. The best is Brightly Fades the Don by former Australian cricketer Jack Fingleton. It is one of the finest books written in a language that critically analyses the 1948 Australia's tour of England.
Jack Fingleton and Sir Don Bradman agreed to disagree on many issues though they played in the same team and were rarely seen having coffee together but the account narrated in the book is totally devoid of bias against Bradman.
From the cricketer's point of view, the best book, however, is Power Of Passion by Justin Langer that deals with mental and technical problems that he overcame with power of passion. It's a book that will help teenagers and first class cricketers who have to deal with situations. The book now has been published by an Indian publisher and is reasonably priced.
The book — Bishan-Portrait of a cricketer by Suresh Menon — has covered all the aspects of Bedi's personality, his achievements and controversies on and off the field. It's a book that old timers who watched Bedi will relish.
Why can't renowned Indian cricketers write autobiographies? The present generation will gain much more from their experiences.