Sachin Tendulkar’s autobiography Playing It My Way is surely the most anticipated book in recent years, considering this cricket-crazy country’s ever-growing hordes of devoted followers.
No cricketer was burdened with so many expectations, nor did anyone perform at the highest level for so long as the Little Master did. But as you jump on to this one hoping to know more about Sachin’s unparallelled 24-year reign on the 22 yards, you end up revisiting the timeline of an unparallelled career we all followed so minutely, starting from his childhood to the final Test match at hometown Mumabi exactly one year back.
The fawning industry, which Sachin knowingly or unknowingly spawned around him for over two decades, including TV commentators, experts, mediapersons, administrators and devoted authors – the whole shebang – has proceeded from enshrining him as god to even demanding his face to replace that of Gandhi’s in new 500-rupee notes. In a way, that would be quite appropriate, for no one has come to represent the money-making potential in liberalised India more than Sachin Tendulkar. Even a year after biding cricket goodbye, brand Sachin refuses to rest.
Unlike most well-known sportsperson’s autobiographies, Sachin’s book offers unending match summaries spanned over a lengthy time period. Hence, the description of Sachin’s first ever 50 in Test cricket becomes: ‘I managed to play 172 balls en route my first half-century in Test cricket and was finally dismissed by Imran for 59. I was involved in a 143-run partnership with Sanjay Manjrekar, and though I hit only four boundaries, the innings gave me a lot of satisfaction.’ Or for instance, describing Andrew Flintoff’s part in the India-England match of 2003 World Cup in South Africa, he writes: ‘He conceded just 15 off his 10 overs and picked up two wickets. He caught and bowled Sehwag for 23 and then had me caught by Collingwood at point for 50.’
Would it be wrong if as reader I expect little more inside information of that famous 82-run victory in Durban, scripted by Ashish Nehra’s a memorable six-wicket haul?
Sachin also played it safe by steering clear from controversies. There is hardly any mention of the entire fixing scandal which almost destroyed the game in his prime playing days. He does talk about Greg Chappell and his captaincy in some detail. About how the Aussie, who rubbed Sourav Ganguly the wrong way, destroyed Indian cricket. Though Chappell recently denied all allegations, saying: ‘I was therefore very surprised to read the claims made in the book’.
It has become a case of one man’s word against the other. But when it comes to trusting, Indians will surlye go with Sachin rather than the Aussie who once even asked his brother Trevor Chappell to bowl underarm to win an ODI tournament!
However, the writing seems more honest and capturing when it’s not about the game and its details, but when Sachin talks of his family. The book does a decent job providing few cricketing insights too, especially how he read the wicket, the position of thumb while reading Murali and so on. Like it was surprising to read that even Sachin gave it back to the bowlers/fielders and not just with his bat.
The overwhelming use of ‘I’ through out the book too reads odd, making me wonder how much the man was obsessed with himself and batting. Sachin’s life involves so many dramas but in this book, co-author Boria Majumdar have described them in a rather tedious style. The narrative far from gripping .
The best part about the book was definitely the first few lines in which he talks about his father’s words about how he’d play cricket for less than half of his life and it’d please him more if people remember him as a good human being than a great cricketer. Great words indeed. Die-hard Sachin fans might find the account amusing, but if I ever feel like missing the master batsman, I will rather go to YouTube and watch recordings of his batting over and over again.