V. Ramnarayan bowled off-spin. Harimohan Paruvu medium-fast. They played for Hyderabad in different eras but offer the cricket fraternity, fans, students and players two eminently readable books on the game ahead of the World Cup, their experience contributing to the two wonderful gifts.
Ramnarayan, with a brief but distinguished first-class record, fondly reflects on his playing career in “Third Man — Recollections from a Life in Cricket”. For Hari, the book is a means to share managements skills and cricket in “50 Not Out”. He calls it “Powerful Life Lessons from Cricket to Excel in Our Lives”.
“I started writing the book 30 years ago,” says Ramnarayan, now 67. His razor-sharp memory revives minute details of a period when cricket was competitive and hardly commercial. “Honestly I was apprehensive of this project because I was not sure if people would want to read a book by someone who did not even play international cricket. I had penned some 30 pages and given up. It was only after persuasion by friends that I could complete the book.”
Rich with anecdotes, “Third Man…” takes the reader down a memory lane where Ramnarayan, who figured in 25 first-class matches in a career spanning from 1975 to 1981, brings to life little-known players from local and domestic cricket. It is a tribute to some of the unsung stars of the game. “It conveys a feeling of happiness. There are some anecdotes still in my notebook. I wish some of our successful cricketers share their cricket experiences,” says Ramnarayan, who played alongside stalwarts like Tiger Pataudi, Abbad Ali Baig, Abid Ali and M.L. Jaisimha in his debut season for Hyderabad. “I was fortunate to have rubbed shoulders with such fantastic cricketers.”
Here is my favourite anecdote from the book. Ramnarayan writes: Kya Bole (What did you ask) Abid is credited with asking this classic question of G. R. Viswanath, when they met three quarters of the way down the pitch, with GRV rooted to the spot and repeatedly shouting “No” at the top of his voice and Abid still charging down regardless for a run.
“Third Man…”, published by Westland, is replete with little-known stories from India’s lively first-class cricket of the 1970s. Driven by nostalgia, the narrative brings out the writing skills of an off-spinner who hailed from a cricketing family. His younger brother, V. Sivaramakrishnan, played 100 first-class matches for Tamil Nadu, and nephew S. Vidyut represented Tamil Nadu and Haryana in 55 first-class matches. Ramnarayan remained the third choice after EAS Prasanna and S. Venkataraghavan, and hence the title of the book. “Third Man…” is a must read for all lovers of cricket.
Hari, like Ramnarayan, is a blogger, writing on cricket and other subjects. For a fast bowler who was part of the Hyderabad Ranji Trophy winning squad in 1986-87, Hari comes across a mild person. Hard to believe he would bowl bouncers. With an infectious smile, Hari notes, “You learn so much from cricket — how to respect your opponent, accept defeat with grace. I have tried to share my cricket and management experience in the fifty lessons aimed at good living.”
Cricket phrases form the basis of Hari’s lessons. “When I played cricket I couldn’t correct myself. Only when you take a few knocks, in cricket or in life, you understand things better. There comes a time when cricket and life ask you questions. In this book, I have dealt with this process.”
He explains, “You get instant feedback from cricket. While working, I realised that many cricketing principles were applicable in the work environment. I am sure the book can help you understand the game better and also benefit from the lessons that cricket teaches.”
“50 Not Out”, a Jaico Publication, opens with “Courage”. “The cricket ball is not a friendly red cherry. Give it to a fast bowler and the ball comes cannoning towards your body. The prescribed technique to play fast bowling is to get in line with the ball,” writes Hari. The lesson comes across clear. “Face hostile and unpleasant situations directly.” Similarly, the chapter “Patience” counsels: “Allow the ball to come to you. If you thought batting was about getting after the ball and knocking the leather off it, think again.” Hari’s advice is, “Allow life to come to you. Let the moment come to you and then engage. Be patient.”
Hari draws on his cricketing experience to guide youngsters in life and management. It is an effort that appeals to students of the game and leaders in the corporate sector. It is a valuable addition to your library.