Indians love a tamasha. With so many religions, and gods, 365 days are too few for celebrations. The entry of one-day cricket two decades ago has added to it. In the age of liberalisation, for a billion poor people, the national news is only about three things: murder or mayhem somewhere; the visit of the Bachchans to the next temple; and the ever-going one-day cricket. Today cricket is played in India all through the year. When I was a schoolboy, there was no one-day cricket, and the Test team played five Test matches and some regional ones, usually in the cool winter months. Now the boys in blue play almost every day. It is all about the money.
March-April is usually exam time for schoolchildren. But with the World Cup upon us, I fear the only study this year is going to be of the dozens of cricket books. Ashis Ray’s book is part of this timely offer to the young, just ahead of the World Cup in the West Indies next month. Meticulously researched and produced, it gives the entire history of India’s one-day matches. This will be manna for all schoolboys. I should know, having been an avid fan of the Amarnaths, Hazares and Vinoo Mankads. We loved to cut out and keep score-sheets from newspapers. With his intimate knowledge and association with the game, Ray has packed in plenty of stories to amuse and interest readers. India’s glorious win of 1983 under a courageous captain, full of high endeavour and remarkable individual effort, has been well brought out, emphasising for our team as they venture across the seas the need for bold leadership, a never-say-die spirit, and above all, absolute unity in effort.