Top positive review
25 March 2018
A CENTURY IS NOT ENOUGH- My roller coaster ride to success : Saurav Ganguly.
Books on sports and sports persons is a newly acquired reading habit. In the last 5 years, would have read more than a dozen books. Needless to say, a large number of these have been on cricket and cricketers. ( Followed by Tennis). Some of the more memorable ones are A Corner of a Foreign Field by Ramachandra Guha, Wounded Tiger – The history of Cricket in Pakistan by Peter Oborne and two outstanding autobiographies of Tennis legends : Open by Andre Agassi and Unstoppable by Maria Sharapova. The worst outing was the Sachin autobiography in collaboration with Boria Mazumdar : Playing it my way, closely followed by Democracy’s XI by Rajdeep Sardesai.
So when the new book of Saurav Ganguly ( my all time favourite) hit the book stands, bought it promptly and I now have a confession to make…finished it in one sitting.
This is not an autobiography which starts in a maternity home in Behala and covers all his life till his retirement – but only a few cricketing moments which are important in the celebrated stylist’s life – his no holds barred views on them and what he learnt out of them. And if you have a man who doesn’t call a spade a spade but a bloody shovel…you are guaranteed an interesting book with remarkable insights with great acuity and precision…..and which will go down as one of the better sports books that I have read.
There is a lot to learn from a remarkable player and an inspirational captain….who got us our self belief back…after the match fixing days of his predecessor…and won us tournaments in India and abroad…..by leading from the front and thru a great display of leadership…..a very interesting and well written book….my only complaint being it is too short….should have covered more of the great man’s life.
Sachin Tendulkar has more batting records and centuries, Rahul Dravid and VVS Laxman had better craft and also possibly averages, Dhoni has more successes as the leader of the team but if one has to pick up the five most charismatic players in Indian cricket in the last 50 years……who combine style, success, attitude, aggression talent and chutzpah - possibly Saurav Ganguly figures on the top of the list…in my list in the company of ML Jaisimha, Salim Durrani, Tiger Pataudi and our new cricketing boss…Virat Kohli.
Neatly split into three parts, Saurav takes us thru his initial days, then half a dozen chapters on his days as the Captain and the final part which seems to be the most painful for him is his being in and out of the team despite superlative performance, his days as the Kolkatta Knight Riders Captain to finally hanging up his boots on his own terms.
I think destiny has not been kind on him. From his initial struggles where it took him almost 4 years to be a regular fixture in the team to being victimized by the all powerful Greg Chappels to his see-saw equation with the KKR team owners – he possibly needed to be handled with greater grace in life by the powers that be for the services he rendered to the Indian cricket team. While he does not hold it against Dravid, one can sense an undercurrent of bitterness about his good friend and one gets a feeling that if Dravid stuck his neck out, Saurav would have been dealt better by the establishment.
In an era of oh-so-politically correct cricket players ( think Sachin / Rahul / VVS), it is gratifying to know of one man who could take on the establishment if required if he was convinced that he was doing the right thing for the game. His insistence on backing newcomers to the hilt guaranteeing them a full series when on board has given India a whole bunch of flamboyant match winning players….like Sehwag, Bhajji, Yuvraj and also to a certain extent, the venerable Dhoni.
The Prince of Kolkatta as Geoff Boycott fondly referred to him is now onto a new career as an administrator and is one of the few administrators who has played the game at the highest levels. And with his courage of conviction, hopefully will do a lot of good to the game in the background as he did it in the foreground as a cricketer.
A thoroughly enjoyable book.
My rating: 4/5.