Indian cricket book will bowl you over
Eleven Gods And a Billion Indians. By Boria Majumdar, Simon and Schuster, $49, hardback .. .. ..
England, the colonial power, gave India Westminster-style democracy and a great rail system. Recent books claim that England took more than it gave, but that aside it's most abiding gift to the sub-continent was the sport of cricket. That happened before partition, but Muslim Pakistan took its love of the game with it. Tragically, what could have been the greatest of rivalries has not eventuated. Due to fears of violence and political enmity, games between the two strong nations have been strictly limited.
That's a story in itself. This book, by highly acclaimed writer and academic Majumdar, is India-dominant, as befits a country now regarded as the global hub of the world of cricket. It traces its history and evolution from colonial days up to the present time.
It is all-embracing. The author shines the light on scandals and conspiracies, internal spats and feuds with players and officials from other nations, and allegations of bribery and matchfixing. But these are side-shows to the game itself, the nail-biting conflicts, especially those against Australia, but also with England and others.
And then there are the players — and what a list of greats India has produced — batsmen like the immortal Sachin Tendulkar, Laxman, Ganguly, Dhoni and many more, and spinners like Harbhajan and many more. It was Tendulkar who inspired the aphorism — “If you are going to steal do so while Sachin is batting because even God will be watching.”
This is a beautifully written and researched book, a classic of its kind. For cricket lovers, no matter where they are from, it is an absolute gem.
— Graeme Barrow
Top batsman Sachin Tendulkar.
The Waipu Presbyterian Church.