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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
on 17 July 2013
I bought the Great Tamasha with a bunch of other books about India ahead of my first trip there (for business) and this was the one that has gripped me (a bit of a surprise as I could not be described as a cricket fan). I'm actually finding it difficult to put it down, because I LOVE the tone: it's very funny in places, while being authoritative, and you feel the guy really knows what he's talking about. I picked it up wanting to know about business in India and I've gleaned a fair amount about that but the bits I've enjoyed most so far are about society, caste, the slum in Mumbai he visits. The book is stuffed with characters, some very famous, some not, all described in a way that has made me think about them when I'm not reading the book. Enthralling, in all, and beautifully, beautifully written.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
on 27 August 2013
This is a nicely written history of cricket in India. Astill has arranged himself access to an impressive array of important figures in the development of Indian cricket whether former players, administrators, IPL owners or Bollywood stars.

Unsurprisingly given Astill's background as a reporter for the Economist, the book is strongest on the developments in the game in India over the last decade or so with the explosion of IPL placed into the context of developments in Indian society over this last 25 years.

The history of Indian cricket before this period is a little perfunctory although there are some nice details around Ranji and the importance of regional princes to the development of the game.

That said this is more of a history of the development and administration of the game in India rather than the game itself. This is a well written book, very readable (other than a few odd jarring moments) and worth the time of those interested in but with little knowledge of the game in the subcontinent.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
on 3 December 2013
This book is strongest in the latter chapters which discuss the modern developments of cricket in India. There are many interesting interviews with cricketing figures which are both eye-opening and informative.
The book is weaker in the earlier chapters which present a potted history of Indian cricket. I found the chronology hard to follow and there's no real binding narrative.
The superb chapters on the IPL are therefore not rooted in the strong discussion of Indian cricketing history that they deserve.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
on 20 November 2013
For reasons I will never know, cricket lends itself to great writing. This book is fabulous... its description of the development of cricket in India makes me laugh, wince and cry. It is so good I am not going to read the final chapters until I am somewhere very special, be it Calcutta, Lahore, Durban or a village green in Middlesex. The story is compelling and the writing is brilliant.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
on 21 October 2013
This book gives you a great insight of the birth and development of Cricket in India. For someone who loves Cricket and India it was an eye opener to read about the history of the sport and how the IPL is becoming one of the biggest and powerful tournaments to hit the cricket world (after Packer's foundation of WSC in the 70s).
The book also opened my eyes from the BCCI's power within the ICC to how the mafia in Mumbai run the spot betting scandals.
A book I would recommend for any Indian cricket lover to get a better understanding of the history of the game and how it is now a part of every Indians life.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
on 13 May 2014
This book is brilliant: starting from the very beginning (how and why Indians swapped from their own old games to the one the Brits played there) it describe and explains how cricket became the national sport, its contradictions, its limits.
From the world cup to the religious tensions among India and Pakistan to the rising of the IPL, the author outlines the processes that made Indian cricket what it is today.

Honest, logic and highly entertaining!
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4 of 5 people found the following review helpful
on 5 August 2013
The author James Astill started to write this book about India's IPL, how it has impacted test cricket and how it is likely to affect the global game in the future. He felt that this would be too narrow and hence goes back in time to the early years of Indian cricket in the 19th century and traces how it has evolved to the current day IPL.

The author is comprehensive in his research. He has interviewed current and former players, administrators, TV commentators, journalists, Bollywood stars, the guy on the street and people in slums including some who have worked for the treacherous underworld.

The interviews with Lalit Modi, Niranjan Shah, Arvind Pujara (the current cricketer Cheteshwar Pujara's father), Vinod Kambli, Salim and Preity Zinta are interesting and the conclusions that he draws are quite perceptive.

Although the author likes test cricket and the traditions of the game, he analyses the IPL objectively by considering the happiness it brings to its mostly Indian fans as well as the havoc that it is wreaking on test match cricket.

He uses cricket as the lens to view how the political and economic landscape of India has changed through the decades.

In keeping with The Economist's views (the author was the magazine's South Asia Bureau chief between 2007 and 2010), he is pro-Congress and anti-BJP. He is quick to point out Narendra Modi's negligence in controlling the Guajarat riots but is less severe on the Congress and does not mention their divisive caste-based vote bank politics.

The author maintains The Economist's time honoured tradition of being sloppy with the facts on Hindu religion. (One of this magazine's surveys, on India, frivolously referred to the Congress Party's members as followers of advaita philosophy and the Janata Dal's members as followers of dvaita philosophy) He refers to the Vedas, as opposed to the correct term Varnas, to refer to the main four main castes in Indian society - Brahmins, Kshatriyas, Vaishyas and Sudras.

Overall, a wonderful book on cricket although I would like to have seen more mention and illustration of the BCCI's bullying behaviour on both the ICC and other playing nations.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
on 2 January 2014
Well written and informative. But less interesting for an Indian readership where most topics/info have been covered exhaustively in the press already
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on 9 July 2014
This is so well written, combining meticulous journalism with colour and insight and entertaining prose. If you love (or are intrigued by) cricket or India - or both - it is a mine of information leading you through history to the present day. It's packed with facts and anecdotes with the threads drawn together so neatly that you can treat it either as a work of reference and record or as an honest appraisal of cricket's evolution for better or worse - and it succeeds on both counts.
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on 22 March 2015
THis is such a fascinating read for that showcases the history of Indian cricket from the days of "Tiger " Pataudi up to the IPL. Each chapter ends with an account of the build up to the final of 2011 World Cup Tournament. Of course, no book about Indian cricket is completes without a dedicated chapter to Sachin, and this is the same. Great for all cricket fans
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