Sachin: The Story of the World’s Greatest BatsmanMartin Chandler |
Author: Ezekiel, Gulu
Publisher: Penguin Random House
Rating: 3.5 stars
One record that Sachin Tendulkar does not hold is that of the youngest man to have played Test cricket. To be fair he was and remains the youngest Indian, but in absolute terms three Pakistanis and a Bangladeshi started out at an age younger than Sachin’s 16 years and 205 days.
Hasan Raza and Mohammad Sharif went on to play a handful of Tests, and Aaqib Javed as many as 22, but none of their careers lasted as long as even ten years. Mushtaq Mohammad on the other hand celebrated 20 years in Test cricket, but even he cannot match Sachin’s span of 24 years and the small matter of 200 appearances in Test matches and 463 in ODIs.
Words like ‘great’ and ‘legendary’ most certainly get bandied about by those writing about sportsmen more than they should, and I will admit to being as guilty of that anyone, but I really don’t believe that anyone would seriously dispute that the use of both of those adjectives is fully justified where Sachin is concerned.
Which is why it is impossible to fault Gulu Ezekiel’s decision to mark the great man’s 50th birthday by getting out his biography, giving it a gentle polish and republishing to mark the occasion. It is perhaps the best tribute to Sachin that Gulu’s book has now gone through three reincarnations, the first three editions appearing in 2002, 2010 and 2012.
I recall reading the third edition, having taken it on holiday with me, although I cannot readily recall now why, if indeed there was a reason, I neglected to review it at the time. I haven’t read it again now, and for that reason this can’t really count as a proper review, but I do recall enjoying the book and feeling, when I reached the end, that I had no need to read anything else on the subject of Sachin Tendulkar.
So in truth this is a review of just three things, the book’s foreword, its preface and the final chapter. That latter part I had expected to consist of much fulsome praise for Sachin and a review of what he has done with his life in the last decade. In fact it is not and merely continues the story of the year in Sachin’s cricket life that saw his international career come to a close. Those wanting a detailed account of the life and times of India’s most famous batsman as he approaches middle age will need to look elsewhere.
Which isn’t to say that there is not a salute from the author to the player who, despite largely avoiding off field controversy, gave him so many column inches over the years. Gulu’s preface takes up only just over a page, but it is a neat and succinct introduction to a book whose re-release Gulu felt to be the best tribute he could pay.
But even Gulu has to concede the competition for the single best piece of writing in Sachin: The Story of the World’s Greatest Batsman. Slightly anxious at the fact he could not persuade any of Sachin’s teammates or fellow Indians to contribute Gulu contacted one of the great English batsmen instead. Sir Geoffrey Boycott took less than a week to answer the call and his thoughts are fascinating and, I am assured, not so much as a punctuation mark different from the 400 or so words that were sent to Gulu from deepest Yorkshire, the county that took Sachin to its collective heart back in 1992.