on 7 January 2003
I've never bothered much with cricket books, aside from stats compilations, compendia of cricket journalism, and a few snatches of Brian Close's autobiography in the school library over 20 years ago when I should have been reading Jane Austen. However, I'm unreservedly recommending this one.
It's a social history of both India and the game there, following its founding in colonial times up until the latter-day clashes with Pakistan. It only really describes matches when they're relevant to the socio-political context, concentrating especially on the Bombay Quadrangular, a competition in the 1920s and 30s where the teams competed along religious/ethnic lines. It highlights the early, and unsung, heroes of Indian cricket - Baloo Palwankar and CK Nayudu - and evokes the country's irrational love of an imported sport brilliantly from start to finish. Good debunking too of the myth behind Lord Harris - proven here not to have been the game's founding father in India at all - and a great account of England's first tour there in the 1930s under one D Jardine, the year after Bodyline.
Meticulously researched and written throughout, it has to be a better bet than self-serving autobiographies and tedious tour diaries.
on 5 November 2003
Having lived in India, and being a great cricket fan, I was really looking forward to this book. The subject matter looks great and the idea for a great book is here.
That said, this book is very hard work. It is meticulously researched and the author has left no corner unturned. I simply found it hard to enjoy. Opening it up to read the next few pages came to be a chore not very far into the book.
I feel this is more like a textbook, something that a student of Indian history may be happy to plough through, but as somebody just reading it for leisure and pleasure, I just felt like there was simply too much information to absorb. I don't read textbooks for pleasure.
Would love to give this more than the 3 stars, but I didn't finish it, and to be honest I am only giving it 3 stars because I figure the amount of work the author has clearly put into it doesn't deserve less.