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Published on Tue, Oct 21, 2008 at 13:32
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The 1983 World Cup victory of India at the Lord’s cricket

ground will be remembered as a momentous event in its cricketing history. This victory altered the nation’s approach towards the particular sport and the resultant way of life of its people, in a way as no other single event ever could.

It spawned a whole new generation of young aspiring cricketers. They would secretly nurse a desire to step into the shoes of the cricketing greats of the time. The advent of television sets in Indian homes around the same time also enhanced the common man’s involvement with the game. Scenes of a whole building converging into the flat that owned a television set on match days were quite common in the early and mid-eighties. A lot of my study time would be spent following cricket matches. In fact, my mother still blames cricket for my poor grades.

Gradually cricket, assumed the status of a religion in our country. It began to evoke national fervour and passion, unprecedented of any sport in the country. On the flip side, this brought in unthinkable sums of money into the game. Thus, the commercialisation of the sport was made inevitable.

Just one decade later, the generation-next cricket lover’s marriage with the game seemed to have gone sour. The honeymoon period was definitely over.

The nineties saw cricket being affected by a variety of scandals, all erupting one after the other. The Pakistani pace-duo of Wasim Akram and Waqar Younis had to grapple with allegations of ball tampering. Later, a can of worms was let loose when Manoj Prabhakar levelled some damning allegations against a former teammate. Hansie Cronje, once known for his immaculate credentials, became the first player to be booked on charges of match fixing. The use of steroids in cricket came to the fore.

These controversies sullied the game. They gave rise to a sense of disillusionment in many sections. The religion lost a chunk of its followers. As a die-hard cricket fan, I could sense my own interest in the game dwindling. The more cynical of my friends would even suspect they were watching ‘staged’ performances on the field.

With the passage of time the controversies escalated to newer levels. Despite firm initiatives of the ICC, they refused to die down. All this left an indelible mark on the sport’s credentials.

Eventually, however, the sheer charm of the sport was strong enough to tide over them all.

Today, cricket, in its newest avataar (Twenty 20) continues to flourish. In fact, the shorter version is bound to extend its appeal to several new countries that had hitherto looked down upon the game for the long hours and days it went up to.

22 yards is an experimental work. It deals with some real cricketing and societal issues. Yet the issues are only the take off points for tales and characters that are wholly fictitious. At one level, the book seeks to probe the underbelly of contemporary international cricket. The starkness notwithstanding, the book is my tribute to this game in which spirited gentlemen like the protagonist still outnumber and triumph over the negative forces. Its tremendous popular appeal remains unparalleled in the sporting annals of our country.

More Favourites of the Author

The Kite Runner by Khaled Hosseini
The author's exceptional story-telling skills and deft detailing make the readers feel for the characters.

The Alchemist by Paulo Coelho
The Alchemist is a simple book with an incredible sense to it. I must have read this book as many times as I got into problems, both on the professional and personal fronts. A must-read for all those wishing to make a headway in life.

The Sari Shop by Rupa Bajwa
An amazing first novel from an Indian author. With her stark style and a strong narrative, Rupa Bajwa has succeeded in making a wafer-thin storyline a compelling read. This book deserves a mention, more so because it came out at a time when I was reading works by new Indian authors to understand what worked and what did not. Of all the authors I read, Rupa's narrative was the most captivating.


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Designed by Subhadip Mukherjee

22 Yards

22 Yards

by Tuhin A. Sinha

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That Thing Called Love

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