Leg Trap – A Tribute to Ghulam AhmedMartin Chandler |
Author: Singh, PR Man
Rating: 3.5 stars
The name of Ghulam Ahmed is not one of the better remembered from the early days of Indian Test cricket, but a quick look at his record shows that he was a decent cricketer. He was his country’s first top class off-spinner and indeed, until Erapelli Prasanna emerged in the 1960s, their only one. He played a fine supporting role to Vinoo Mankad in India’s first ever Test match win, over England in 1952, and later took ten wickets in a Test against Australia at Eden Gardens, although sadly for India that did not prevent an Australia victory.
After his playing days Ghulam contributed much to Indian cricket both in the role of administrator and in the management of touring sides. He was the Honorary Secretary to the BCCI for a number of years, and later a Vice-President, but he left the organisation as soon as he saw political considerations being brought into the decision-making process.
What PR Man Singh has produced has the look and feel of a traditional English A4-sized Benefit Brochure. Inside that impression is confirmed by the presence of an introduction followed by 22 essays about Ghulam culled from a variety of sources. Were it not for the absence of any advertising the book would easily be mistaken for a benefit publication, particularly as a number of the essays are written in such a way that suggests Ghulam is still with us. In fact the reader is left to labour under that misapprehension until he or she reads page 49, and is informed that Ghulam died in 1998 at the age of 76.
The big hurdle that faces any editor in these projects is to avoid his contributors dealing with the same topics, particular in the case of the major achievements from Ghulam’s playing career, and this is something that is skilfully dealt with. It has to be said that one or two of the shorter essays actually say very little of interest, but the majority are fascinating insights into the life and times of an important figure in the development of Indian cricket. Perhaps inevitably the contributions from recognised authors and writers are the best features of the book, although I was left slightly frustrated at a short piece from Ghulam’s former teammate, CD Gopinath, which, given that he touches upon the more technical aspects of why Ghulam was successful, I felt could have been the highlight of the book if he had chosen to expand on that theme.
There are many cricketers who, while they may not justify the expense and time involved in producing a full length biography, are of sufficient interest to justify this sort of publication, and Ghulam Ahmed is certainly one of them. PR Man Singh, “Peter” to those close to him, has most definitely done the game a great service by putting together this affectionate tribute to a man I am pleased to have learned more about. The only negative thing I can say about the book is that there is a reference at the beginning to someone being responsible for “Editorial proof reading” – I am not surprised that he or she omitted their full name. As a reviewer I tend to be fairly forgiving of typographical errors, particularly where essentially private publications are involved but it has to be said that, particularly in light of the otherwise very impressive production standards, the frequency of minor and wholly avoidable errors did grate at times.
So if Leg Trap appeals it is certainly recommended although it may, particularly for those outside the sub-continent, prove tricky to acquire. That said the Review Team do have some contact details for the author so if any reader of this review is tempted to purchase please email us and we will do our best to assist