Of cricket, courage, conviction and controversy

Author Vedam Jaishankar explores the world of cricket amidst the pandemic in his latest book

By   |  Published: 30th Sep 2020  11:16 pmUpdated: 30th Sep 2020  11:18 pm

Maybe if this project had been envisaged and written this year, author Vedam Jaishankar could have added another C in his Courage, Conviction, Controversy and Cricket book. That is Covid-19. Cricket in the pandemic has been a different challenge. But Jaishankar dives into cricketing history to understand the structure and substructure of cricket, truly revealing the many splendours of this ‘lovely’ game.

As written in the book, cricket is full of tales of heroism, bravery, fortitude determination. Players have delivered awe-inspiring performances in spite of injuries. He gives the example of the late West Indies fast bowler Malcolm Marshall, who batted with a fractured arm, or our own Anil Kumble, who played with a broken jaw, or Mansur Ali Khan, who played his entire game with just one eye.

The author even touched the controversies that “stirred up emotions, like Bodyline, match-fixing, the Packer affair, the Sourav Ganguly-Greg Chappell fall out, Vaseline usage on the ball, assault on umpire, physical assault on cricketers and so on”.

Cricket is often referred to as a gentleman’s game and one cannot forget the sportsmanship of Gundappa Viswanath in the famous Bombay Test in 1981 where England’s Bob Taylor was given out caught behind off Kapil Dev. The book mentions how Karsan Ghavri talks about Viswanath’s decision to call back the batsman. It will go down in history, something that will be seen once in twenty or twenty-five years. Ghavri said Vishy was a gentleman and he played the game very fair. Even Taylor praised Viswanath’s gesture. “That was a great gesture of sportsmanship, which cannot be forgotten.” Much later, Vishy revealed since Taylor was not out he could not live without doing anything about it.

Talking about courage, the author says how BS Chandrasekhar overcame a withered arm and yet became India’s greatest match-winning bowler. “Who else but BS Chandrasekhar, with his easy smile but fierce determination and indomitable spirit, could have done this?,” asks the author.

Coming to the controversial topic of match-fixing, a good number of pages have been devoted to this issue. “Unlike cricketers from other parts of the world, India’s cricketers have money, fame, endorsements, high visibility, jobs, respect and incredible fan support…. Thus most India cricketers are multi-millionaires in any currency,” he says.

Yet, allegations of match-fixing were bandied quite freely for decades now. There is mention of Mohd Azharuddin in this match-fixing scandal.

As India coach Ravi Shastri, in his foreword, says: “The book does a great job of putting together well-worn anecdotes that contain references to moments that have now forever been etched into the game’s DNA.”


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