THE inside story of cricket is no less sleazy, slimy and scurrilous as the religious fervour with which India is obsessed with the game.
The love for the game of cricket is amply evident from the crowds that throng the cricket stadium or sit glued to their television sets while the roads lie empty, devoid of any traffic. This is however only one part of the game. There is another world out there which is not visible on the screen and which the author highlights in this book written in incisive language – a world of gross malpractices, game-fixing, shoddy misconduct, player immaturity, side deals. It is a world where behind the façade of intrepid combative and a professional cheerful bunch of 11, there lie teams that are deeply divided and ruled by personal milestones, inflated egos and power-play; well-known players getting involved with off-cricket-field misdemeanours; too many intermediaries playing peculiar games including board officials, aggressive sponsors, retired cricketers and even “inner camps within the team themselves”. Sports apart, media, TV channels and BCCI assume stranglehold control of the game.
The author has plenty of questions to ask from BCCI / IPL who are in receipt of a monumental windfall that has left “even financial analysts comprehensively stumped about rational valuations.” He wonders how their gross exploitation of the great game of cricket goes essentially unchallenged.
This is a book to be read by every sports lover and those who want to know what goes behind the popular game of cricket. This reviewer found the best chapter to be titled ‘Last Prince’, which is on Sourav Ganguly and reveals why the coach, Greg Chappell and the Ganguly fracas caused incalculable damage to Indian cricket. -MG
(Orient Publishing, 5A/8 Ansari Road, New Delhi-110 002.)