January 24, 2009

Beyond the Blues

How I wrote Beyond the Blues

Aakash Chopra



Dear readers,

Though this post has probably got nothing to do with domestic cricket, my book most certainly does have. I'll take the liberty of taking you through the journey of how Beyond the Blues happened. At the insistence of Siddhartha Vaidyanathan, a friend and former Cricinfo journalist, I started keeping a diary for the 2007-08 first-class season.

Even though I had read quite a few rather popular diaries in England, I was sceptical about the interest such a book would generate with the Indian reading audience. People in India don't follow domestic cricket as closely as they do in England and perhaps that's why there has never been a book written about India's domestic cricket. The second issue preventing me from writing the book was the discipline and effort it would require. I knew that once started, I had to commit myself to write almost everyday, and that included days when I would come back home knackered after the day’s play, days when I would fail on the field and writing would be the last thing on my mind and on days when nothing of note would happen and hence would find it equally difficult to write.

But when I did start writing eventually, little did I know that it would become a book some day. I started writing notes at the end of the day and started enjoying it. Within two months into the season I had written over 20,000 words and that's when I realised I needed to see it through till the end. Writing at the end of a day's play was keeping me on my toes during the day as well. Though I wrote on days when I didn't do well, it wasn't a happy feeling. I would constantly tell myself that it would read quite badly in the end if I have a poor season; that I'm commenting and recording everyone's performances while I scored only a handful of runs. A very scary thought indeed. Not that it prevented me from nicking the ball outside off-stump to the keeper, but it did add that extra focus to do well.

A lot of things also conspired to keep me on my toes: the central contract, Delhi's dream run, my personal form and chances of playing for the country. In any case, I couldn't have written the script better. It was a landmark season with Delhi winning the Ranji Trophy after 16 years, North Zone clinching the Duleep Trophy, and me ending up being the highest run-scorer. We also had the first edition of the IPL in the same season to top it all.

Fortunately, finding a publisher wasn't a problem as Harper Collins came to know that I was writing a diary and approached me to publish it. The first hurdle was collecting the pictures for the book. Even though I carried my camera to all venues but my photographic skills are worse than my bowling skills .A photographer friend Ashutosh, who had clicked a lot of pictures during the domestic season, came to my rescue. The next bit was to choose the cover for the book and it was indeed good fun. I went to several book stores, not to buy books but to check out the covers to gain an idea. Finally, we had three options to choose from and I posted them on my facebook profile for the people's verdict and the one that got the maximum number of votes was finalised as the cover. Finding the title was even more difficult and facebook didn't come to my rescue this time, but a friend, yet another Cricinfo journalist, Sidharth Monga came up with this title 'Beyond the Blues' which we found very apt. The idea behind the title was that in India we identify our cricketers with the colour 'blue', these are our 'men in blue', but then there are 'the blues' of playing domestic cricket too which everyone goes through before donning the blue India colours.

The final bit was to finalise the date of release which gave us all a bit of a headache and some heartache too. We were supposed to release it in October but the book wasn't ready by then and we didn't want to do a shoddy job of it and hence postponed it. Then it was difficult to find time during the domestic season and so we decided to do it on December 22 at the Taj Mahal hotel in Mumbai which would have been the fourth day of the second Test between India and England. But then 26/11 happened and the plans were scrapped. Celebration was the last thing on our minds at that point of time.

Finally, on January 8 the book saw the light of day with a release function in Delhi. I was overwhelmed with the response on that night. Everyone who I had invited turned up to show their love and support. Virender Sehwag cancelled his advert shoot to be there and the rest fought their way through a heavy traffic jam (thanks to some festival and petrol pump strike) to participate in the event. Mr Arun Jaitley, the Delhi and Districts Cricket Association president, was kind enough to officially release the book.

I can't thank everyone enough for making that day memorable. Now that the book is out and reviews have started pouring in, I'm a bundle of nerves once again. It is even worse than facing a quality bowler for two reasons. One — I've been playing cricket for as long as I remember and hence it doesn't make me too nervous. And second - while facing a quality bowler at least you have the opportunity to do something with the ball hurled in your direction, whereas in this case you could only read what others think about your work with no option to change the outcome. But then that's exactly the reason why anyone writes a book - to know what others think about it. So I'd like to request my readers to feel free to give an honest feedback on Beyond the Blues. And also forgive me for boring you with this post which has nothing to do with the ongoing season but I promise to make up for it in the forthcoming posts.

Cheers.

Former India opener Aakash Chopra is the author of Out of the Blue, an account of Rajasthan's 2010-11 Ranji Trophy victory. His website is here and his Twitter feed here

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Posted by Aditya Mookerjee on (May 16, 2009, 9:06 GMT)

All the best Aakash. I must read the book. I am sure, that it will be an accurate portrait on the current life and times of domestic cricket. You are lucky, that Mr Jaitley released your book.

Posted by mukesh kunal on (March 6, 2009, 16:45 GMT)

hello Aakash, First of all i would like to congratulate you for the first book that was published on 8 th jan.Frankly speaking i'm a big fan of yours and i really like your batting style and how u build up an innings in Test matches which u have played.Its a good thought that u have an initiative writting for the welfare and upliftment of Domestic cricket.In a country like India where cricket is like a religion and people mad about cricketers but domestic cricket get uncovered as no one is interested in it.People do forget that the best talent playing for india do comeout playing and swetting out in this circuit.So i hope that u do cover and write the happenings of domestic cricket and our views on it. Hope to see u again in the national squad playing for the country because its great to be the part of the national team.

Posted by Khalil on (February 21, 2009, 15:33 GMT)

Dear Aakash, it was really useful for us to know the amount of hardship one has to go for accomplishing his views to the common public or in other words the Indian cricket fans. The events which get unnoticed, have been highlighted by you very systematically indeed.We hope you keep writing your views.. All the Best. Thanks.

Posted by SHRIDHAR on (February 18, 2009, 9:31 GMT)

Dear Akash, I just finished your book.Yes I read lot of books/autobiography/fiction etc etc.Honestly I liked your book. It is quite and honest effort and we all grow in life struggling ,I came to Mumbai 22 years back and can associate with your struggles. Please keep writting I like your style and your way of conveying the message without hurting the concerned people.My guess is people will notice and after sometime will respect you and seek your advise. Please keep writting Cheers Shridhar

Posted by Anonymous on (February 13, 2009, 4:06 GMT)

Cricket now a days is suffering from off the field politics/pressure in many cricket playing countries at an alarming rate,latest example is the Srilankan Captain, who eventually has decided to step down after successfully leading his country to world cup final,Srilanka's biggest success after their world cup championship in 1996.Mahela Jawardene, Sourav Ganguly and so many names can be brought on to the list, it is no longer just a decent gentleman's sports but a victim of money,power,politics and sometimes meaningless quest for fame.Hope we'll see a better days sometime in the near future and Cricket will be restored at it's original status.

Posted by George on (February 12, 2009, 19:06 GMT)

Hi Akash, Finally, finally some coverage of the domestic circuit! I vividly remember the super starts u and sehwag gave India down under. Way to go! ciao, George

Posted by George on (February 12, 2009, 19:06 GMT)

Hi Akash, Finally, finally some coverage of the domestic circuit! I vividly remember the super starts u and sehwag gave India down under. Way to go! ciao, George

Posted by Sekhar on (February 8, 2009, 14:06 GMT)

I have completed the book.The bottomline of the book is that life is tough for any cricketer,be it international or domestic.While the latter has to cope with sub-standard accommodation and practice facilities and low crowds for domestic games,the former is constantly under the scrutiny of the people and the media.The former has to cope with media misquotes which,in some cases,turn funny,sometimes bitter too.Steve Waugh never said "You've dropped the cup" to Gibbs.He actually said "You've dropped the match,mate".Look how we all know it as.

The greatest takeaway for me is Tatenda Taibu's 3-point formula to tackle the demons that play in your mind.

Wishing you good luck for the Ranji ODs.Hope you enjoy the 2008-2009 season and play a key role in your team's way to the top.

Posted by Bhanu pATELL on (February 7, 2009, 1:40 GMT)

Dear Akash, I nnever forget your job in Austrelia as tormentor for Stev. Waugh. Did Saurav Ganguli is calling you. Get more agressive and kids learned from you.

Posted by tilak jha on (February 4, 2009, 16:03 GMT)

hi! Aakash.I hardly could imagine abt such a book. M not praising coz I asked fr an appointment n got in just one call.Yeah! though man is loved fr simplicity and not being difficult.I hv nt read d book till now but m sure it wud b a great reading.

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Aakash Chopra
Aakash Chopra is the 245th Indian to represent India in Test cricket. A batsman in the traditional mould, he played 10 Tests for India in 2003-04, and has played over 120 first-class matches. He currently plays for Delhi in the Ranji Trophy; his book Beyond the Blues was an account of the 2007-08 season. Chopra made a formidable opening combination with Virender Sehwag, which was believed to be one of the reasons for India's success in Australia and Pakistan in 2003-04. He is considered one of the best close-in fielders India has produced after Eknath Solkar.

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