Book: Playing It My Way
Author: Sachin Tendulkar, Boria Majumdar (contributor)
Publication Year: 2014
Number of Pages: 486
My rating: 3/5
I must begin by criticising the writing for it was such a big disappointment for a book that I began reading with much excitement. For a legend of the game, and one who I’ve admired since childhood, I often felt that the writing in this book was amateurish and did very little justice to Sachin’s great achievements and his memorable career. I have read Boria Majumdar’s columns in newspapers and even they seem better written in comparison. I wondered why someone of the stature of either a Ramchandra Guha or a Sharda Ugra couldn’t have been brought to the table to write this book. I also wondered how a publishing house like Hachette would’ve allowed such a book to go ahead. Perhaps they were certain that merely Sachin’s name was good enough to sell enough copies and no one would notice the sub par writing. (At one point in my notes while reading the book, I actually wrote “School boy-ish writing. Aargh!!!”)
What does work for this book, however, is the wave of nostalgia that will sweep through you if you’ve followed Indian cricket for the years that Sachin played cricket. I could not only recall scenes that I’d seen unfolding on a television screen but also headlines from newspapers of the Indian team’s exploits as I read about them in this book. Who can forget Sachin’s batting heroics at Sharjah or him taking five wickets in a match against Australia at Kochi and then juggling the ball with glee? How can I ever forget the heartbreak as I saw Sachin getting out to Saqlain Mushtaq in Chennai? A hundred memories like these are what I would like to remember this book for.
Another thing that impressed me in this book is Sachin complimenting and thanking all the people who have helped him throughout his career. From his coaches, to the support staff, his parents, his wife, his manager. Everyone gets a mention.
Something that surprised me, and has been written/talked about a lot, is how Sachin doesn’t talk much about the troubles that the team faced when match-fixing allegations were flying thick and fast. He is basically done with it in three or four sentences where he merely mentions how angry and upset he was. I can understand why he cannot reveal names or more such, but as a man who was in the eye of the storm (so to speak) this tells the Sachin fan very little how much the champion was affected by the scandal.
This inability to express Sachin’s anger and frustrations is also evident when describing the various injuries and resultant breaks and therapy that he had to undergo. Not only does the persistent back injury seem as if it wasn’t a big deal but even the tennis elbow injury is not made to sound threatening enough.
The book does become engrossing as he nears his retirement day. He is able to express in vivid detail the emotions he felt as he saw the noise around him reached deafening levels. It feels as if he were at peace with his decision of retiring and that is one thing a Sachin fan can feel happy about.
Overall, this book remains a disappointment. Sub par writing, anecdotes which don’t give you an insight into the inner world of players, funny anecdotes that fall flat, conveniently sidestepping the troubling times that Indian cricket saw in the last decade and a half are a big thumbs down for me.
Perhaps Saurav Ganguly’s (auto)biography, if and when that is written, will give us a better insight into arguably the greatest era in Indian cricket. Hopefully, that book will be like Saurav’s commentary: never holding back a punch.
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