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Unwritten books to mull over as the year winds to a close


As the year draws to a close, and lists of the best and worst books are compiled, let us look at a third category.

As the year draws to a close, and lists of the best and worst books are compiled, let us look at a third category : books that haven’t been written yet.

In A League of Their Own: The story of great clubs in leagues around the world, teams often inspired by the formidable club cricketer rather than the international.

The Many Ups and Downs of Venkatraghavan: India’s great off spinner had a fascinating career. He was a student of the game and could have been one of India’s best captains. But he led in just five Tests, and had the mortification of hearing of his sacking from the pilot on the flight home from the England tour of 1979. He first led against the West Indies in 1974-75 following much drama ahead of the Delhi Test, and was made 12th man in the next Test. Post-retirement, he took up umpiring to serve the game he loved. He became secretary of the Tamil Nadu Cricket Association, and played league cricket well into his forties.

What Really Happened in 1974: It is 45 years since that tour of England, when India lost all the Tests, were bowled out for 42 at Lord’s, were chided by the High Commissioner, had to deal with a shop lifting case, all apart from the personnel issues. Skipper Ajit Wadekar and Bishan Bedi were at loggerheads, two players went at each other with cricket bats. Sunil Gavaskar wrote, “It was a totally disastrous series and the tour was one of the worst I made.”

The Philosophy of Cricket: There have been recent books on the subject by Mike Brearley (On Form), Gary Cox (Cricket Ball), while other philosophers have written on the game including David Stove, David Papipeau, Samir Chopra and Edward Craig. Yet the definitive book is yet to be written.

The Real Sachin Tendulkar: Is India’s greatest batsman the perfect man all of us have made him out to be? Did he have no weak spots as batsman or person? What corners did he cut, and what was the impact when he stepped out of his public persona? Not so much tearing down a national hero as introducing some balance. No genius existed without a touch of madness, the philosopher Aristotle told us. What about a touch of frailty?

Bradman v Fingleton, Gavaskar v Bedi: Personality Clashes in the Game: There are books on the former, not on the latter. Some clashes can be put down to the ego, others to the result of grown men spending days and weeks together on tour when what’s bubbling beneath can often come to the surface. Teams win without team spirit — its useful to be reminded of this.

Hypocrisy as Art — The story of the BCCI: India’s governing body has been called out on many occasions, most notably when the Supreme Court attempted to clean it up recently. Yet there is something about the air the administrators breathe that seems to make them impervious to criticism, and even the law. What is this magic? A history of the politics and principles (or lack thereof ) since the BCCI was formed in December 1928.

Taking What Was Left — The Story of Vijayakrishna: Bharamaiah Vijayakrishna, who turned 70 this year, was a left-arm spinner and batsman who played a key role in Karnataka’s first Ranji Trophy triumph. He played 80 matches, and picked up 194 wickets, which was remarkable in a team which for the most part relied on Erapalli Prasanna and Bhagwat Chandrasekhar. He was a maverick, and the focal point of some excellent anecdotes.

How I Invented the Doosra by Saqlain Mushtaq: The Pakistani off-spinner is credited with inventing the doosra, the off-spin bowler’s variation which spins from leg to off. Saqlain chanced upon it while playing with a table tennis ball, and has claimed it can be delivered with a legitimate bowling action if one masters it. The previous ‘new’ delivery for spin, the googly, was invented by Bernard Bosanquet who also developed it from a table-top game called Twisti-Twosti. The object was to bounce a tennis ball on a table so that it could not be caught by an opposing player.

The Complete Story of Match-fixing at the Turn of the Century: How many players were involved besides Hansie Cronje and Mohammad Azharuddin? How deep did the malaise go? When did it all start? Which are the fixed games we know nothing of? Who was pulling the strings from the outside? How did the various actors in the drama communicate?

I Am a Woman, Sue Me: Women are no longer second class citizens of the cricketing world. How and when did this come about, especially in Asia?

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Printable version | Jan 20, 2020 2:11:48 PM |

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