I have waited all these years to read about Sachin Tendulkar from Sachin Tendulkar. Through all his playing years, he has spoken very little during his better times.
For over 24 years, we have got to hear from him only when he was upset or when he had reached a milestone. And most of his talking has been as crisp as his paddle sweep. There are many of his quotable quotes like the one on using the stones thrown at him to construct a monument. After reading 'His' story, here are some of my quick conclusions before I proceed to review the book.
Here is the story of someone who was lapped up by millions as the "Golden Boy" when he arrived on the scene in 1989 and went on to become a cult, an icon and a God for the people, for whom cricket was the religion.
Why ordinary people? Even his team-mates like Bhajji, Yuvi and Virat have adulated him as God. They have sung for him, the song, "Tujh me Rab Dikhta hai Yaara mai kya karoon" translated as "I see God in you my friend, what can I do?".
The narration, put together by Boria Majumdar is straight; as straight as the SRT straight drive, in his own way. The language is simple even though we see a lot of unnecessary comas after the word 'and'.
We are informed that the author's proceeds from this book will be used to support two charitable causes by Apnalaya.
The story is told over 28 chapters starting from Childhood. For me, who has reviewed very pompous stories like that of Usain Bolt, the SRT story comes across as an extremely modest, fatalistic and often melodramatic.
Apart from Acknowledgements and Prologue, the book runs into 486 pages including the appendix, a detailed compilation of his career statistics and index.
Printed and bound by Manipal Technologies Ltd, Manipal and published by Hodder & Stoughton, UK. The hard cover version is priced Rs. 899/-.
Here is a man who owns practically a shopping mall of world records in his chosen game and he goes about in the typical middle-class Maharashtrian way of down-to-earth approach. I understand, this is what made the boy with the squeaking voice a darling of the nation for quarter of a century and counting.
He touches upon almost all victorious moments in his career. He glosses over the losses when his own performances went in vain and often blames himself for the failure when the team lost. Except for the sordid tale following the Multan declaration when he was on 194, he leaves all other controversies safely out.
Even while narrating the bitter tale, he leaves it to the readers to understand it was Dravid who was behind the declaration. He is extremely effusive in his praise for 'Dada' Saurav Ganguly as the man with whom he shared a great rapport. Coming to team-mates, he expresses great respect for Dravid, Kumble, Sehwag, Laxman, Zaheer and is also eloquent about Rahane, Pujara, Kohli and Rohit.
He has great respect for Gavaskar, Richards, Shastri, Lara, Warne, Murali, Waugh, Akram and many others. As he admits in the beginning, it is impossible to recount every detail in a book under 500 pages. But he has done enough elaborating on the events and issues he felt were important.
He is all praise for IPL and has a chapter dedicated to it. His bitterness about his captaincy stints is made obvious throughout. Even though he is so fond of his parents and brother Ajit, the most important person in his life happens to be wife Anjali and he is extremely proud about her and the sacrifices she has made over the years. He is also proud of his kids Sara and Arjun and is happy about Arjun choosing cricket.
But for a fleeting mention in the chapter "Tumultuous Times", the match-fixing saga has been completely ignored like an outside edge that went through the empty slip cordon. Considering the fact that SRT was part of the rebuilding process after the match-fixing fiasco, we expected a little more insight into this under-told tale.
Well, perhaps SRT doesn't want to open that cupboard and we will leave it to Dada to do the talking if he ever wants to do it.
The pride of winning and the pain of losing have been recounted in simple yet touching language. His problems with the Chappell brothers Ian and Greg and his outburst to the elder brother Ian are the only other controversies he has touched upon in detail. Most of the dubious events have been mentioned and left back in lightening speed except the 'Dennis the Menace' incident in South Africa and the infamous Sydney Test. Extreme bitterness can be witnessed in the chapters, Endulkar, Bad Language and Bouncing Back.
The book ends in an extremely emotional Bollywood tear-jerker like fashion with his retirement and 'The Speech'.
There is no doubt about the book becoming an all-time best-seller in the history of sports-related books in India. Though it comes across as incomplete, we have to accept it because nothing in life is perfect, not even Sachin Tendulkar.
© Cricket World 2014