The Great Tamasha - James Astill

The Great Tamasha - James Astill
The Great Tamasha - James Astill

The Great Tamasha is the story of modern India told through the glitzy, scandalous and mind-blowingly lucrative Twenty20 cricket tournament, the Indian Premier League.

Part social history, part sporting commentary The Great Tamasha will appeal to anyone who wants to understand the workings of modern India.

On a Bangalore night in April 2008, cricket and India changed forever. It was the first night of the Indian Premier League – cricket, but not as we knew it. It involved big money, glitz, prancing girls and Bollywood stars. It was not so much sport as tamasha: a great entertainment.

The Great Tamasha examines how a game and a country, both regarded as synonymous with infinite patience, managed to produce such an event. James Astill explains how India’s economic surge and cricketing obsession made it the dominant power in world cricket, off the field if rarely on it. He tells how cricket has become the place where power and money and celebrity and corruption all meet in India, to the rapt attention of a billion eyeballs.

Astill crosses the subcontinent and, over endless cups of tea, meets the people who make up modern India – from faded princes to back-street bookmakers, slum kids to billionaires – and sees how cricket shapes their lives and that of their country. Finally, in London he meets Indian cricket’s fallen star, Lalit Modi, whose driving energy helped fuel this cricket revolution before he was dismissed in disgrace: a story that says much about modern India.

The Great Tamasha is a fascinating examination of the most important development in cricket today.


James Astill is the political editor of The Economist. He was formerly the newspaper's South Asia Bureau Chief, stationed in New Delhi 2007-2010. He has also worked as the newspaper’s efence editor, energy and environment editor and Afghanistan correspondent. He has won several journalism awards including America’s Gerald R. Ford Prize for Reporting on National Defence, the Grantham Prize for Excellence in Environmental Reporting and a Ramnath Goenka Award for writing on India.


Published by Wisden Sports Writing, 4 July 2013
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