Just for an icon

HE WAITED 15 years to write on an individual after having watched him in a match that has become folklore in the maidans ofMumbaicricket. It must have been tough, yet enjoyable, and the product, "A Definitive Biography", is just the kind of tribute you would appreciate when the subject happens to be Sachin Tendulkar. Vaibhav Purandare was a member of the opposition when Tendulkar, in the company of Vinod Kambli, gave early indications of his awesome potential during a school cricket match with an unbeaten innings of 326 in a world record stand. This effort has its roots in that momentous event.

Old roots

"History unwittingly put me in this position. I was sitting in the tent and watched a world record being made against my school team. I developed interest in that thin boy. He was as thin as I was but I don't know where he got the power to pulverise the opposition. I was so fascinated by his sight that I have followed his progress since," says Purandhare, who has produced a delightfully written and meticulously researched biography of one of the greatest cricketers of all time.

The biography gives us wonderful insight into the making of Tendulkar, tracing his early days with some rare anecdotes. The one that stands out is the prediction by one of the umpires in a school game, Gondhalekar, who was convinced that Tendulkar would one day bat for India. And the youngster was only in his first season of school cricket.

"I noticed that Tendulkar would get big scores. He would either get out for zero or smash the opposition. Suddenly, one fine day, I realised that the boy I saw many years ago had now become an icon and I thought I was in a privileged position to write on him. It was the ideal time to do a biography that would place things in the right perspective. I was not very close to him but I was not very far either," observes Purandare.

The biography places emphasis on analysis and not just statistical narration of a man considered by most as God's gift to the game. It discusses his game, technique, and his evolution as a batsman next only to Sir Don Bradman. As Purandare notes, "Tendulkar came on the scene when the country was facing challenges on all fronts, socially, politically and economically. Tendulkar offered liberation. He made us feel good with his achievements. This book is an attempt to find answers to many aspects that make Tendulkar such a fascinating human being."

Only human

Just for an icon

Purandare rightly argues that Tendulkar is as human as any, and yet there is so much that separates him from the rest. "He is not God. If he were a God, he would never have got those inside edges, outside edges. He would never have failed on the cricket field," he says. Tendulkar's failures and triumphs have been discussed in the right spirit in this biography, which highlights Tendulkar the man and the cricketer. It is to Purandare's immense credit that he has interacted with Tendulkar's colleagues and extracted a professional response from each of them, making the critical analysis fair. This book is a must for those who relish quality writing that is close to the subject. The style makes for compelling reading and as the publishers, Roli Books, claim, the book brings to light the multi-faceted personality of Tendulkar.

As the 29-year-old Purandare points out, there have been 50-odd books on Bradman with something new to discover in each. "This effort of mine is to present the unknown side of Tendulkar." At the end of 415 pages of delightful reading, one is convinced that this indeed is "a definitive biography of Sachin Tendulkar" and a worthy addition to your collection of quality cricket books.