Guts and Glory

Published: 2014
Pages: 232
Author: Waingankar, Makarand
Publisher: Jaico
Rating: 3 stars

After his biography of Yuvraj Singh and his book on Mumbai cricketers, Bombay Boys: Chronicles of Cricketing Heroes, Makarand Waingankar has come out with his third book, a series of profiles of Indian cricketers from the 1960s to the present generation.

Waingankar has been observing and writing on Indian cricket for 45 years and also launched the Talent Resource Development Wing on behalf of the Board of Control for Cricket in India. Bombay Boys was a mini-classic, focusing not just on the big names from the capital of Indian cricket, but also some of its more colourful characters who did not make it to the national stage.

Here Waingankar focuses on the legends of Indian cricket from Tiger Pataudi and Sunil Gavaskar to modern day heroes Virat Kohli and Mahendra Singh Dhoni.

This time the author has clubbed together players who shared links, some obvious, others tenuous. So you have the three spin legends of the 70s, Bishan Singh Bedi, EAS Prasanna and BS Chandrasekhar in one chapter, comparing the styles and techniques of the master left arm spinner, off spinner and leg spinner who so enriched Indian cricket folklore.

Waingankar scores once again while writing about cricketers from his hometown of Mumbai. Indeed what Waingankar does not know about Mumbai cricket is not worth knowing at all.

You may not immediately guess what links Sunil Gavaskar and GR Vishwanath except Vishy is married to Gavaskar’s sister. But in fact their careers ran parallel through the ‘70s when Gavaskar laid the foundation for the Indian innings as the world’s best opener while Vishwanath added flair to the middle order with his flamboyant strokeplay.

Ajit Wadekar and Dilip Sardesai were from the classic school of Bombay batsmanship, though Sardesai remains the only Indian Test cricketer to be born in Goa. Wadekar was a late entrant into cricket and the story behind his first taste of the game is just one of the many gems unearthed by Waingankar in this fascinating study.

Rahul Dravid and VVS Laxman though very different in style and strokeplay will forever be linked by their epic partnership in the 2001 Kolkata Test against Australians which turned the tide in modern day Indian cricket history.

Quite the most remarkable part of this book is that Waingankar wrote the major portion of it while recovering from high risk brain surgery when his doctors advised him not to tax himself. His confession that he could not cut himself off from his beloved cricket and dreams of the great deeds of cricketers of the 60s and 70s is something any cricket fanatic can relate to.

The book is embellished by some delightful caricatures by Austin Coutinho.

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