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The Great Tamasha mirrors India's rise as a nation to its rise as a cricketing power. James Astill, author of the book, documents the evolution of cricket - with its introduction during the British era to its extravagant and controversial avatar, the Indian Premier League. Speaking to Will Davies of the Wall Street Journal, Astill explains his take on the sport that verges on obsession in the country and believes it is an apt tool to describe the India's story.
I wanted to tell that story, but not through the usual all-India generalizations - not from the usual New Delhi vantage. There have been too many books like that already. Rather, I wanted a unifying theme or a story, which would allow me to reflect on India's broader narrative. And it was only natural that I found this in Indian cricket - which is spectacularly rich and politically powerful, also riven with infighting and corruption, and just unbelievably popular. Most of India loves it. And I love it too
As yet another summer of cricket comes to a close, the Old Batsman muses how cricket's complexities allow a different face to each age of the player and how the elements of the game one takes pleasure in continuously shift.
Once you pass the point at which professionals retire, it takes on a new hue. Before that moment, however delusionally, you can convince yourself you're playing the same game that you always have. You're not yet entirely divorced from the young kids who come in to thrash their 60-ball hundreds or mark out their 20-yard runs. Soon though, there's something different in the way that they look at you, and you realise that they are occupying a psychological terrain that you have surrendered.
If the first day of the Ashes set the tone for the rest of the series, this one will be remembered as much for the skittish attitude of both teams, as for Australia's deficiency in the batting order. It's a view that Greg Baum, writing in the Age, and former England captain Nasser Hussain, in his column for the Daily Mail, share. Baum, in particular, believes the poor batting, especially by Australia had a lot to do with temperament.
Conditioned by short forms more like T-ball, contemporary batsmen are not technically or temperamentally suited to toughing it out on days like this. The pitch was challenging, but not the ogre they made it look. It is not a new theory, but it [is] every year more apparent."
For Paul Hayward in the Telegraph, and the nerves on both sides are likely to show through.
Modern sports stars pretend to know how to objectify hype - to block it out - but few can say they have really mastered the art. The more they say "we have to treat it as just another Test match" the more the other side of the brain is gripped by panic.
While the Test saw seven Ashes debuts on both sides, it was the experience of James Anderson and Peter Siddle that impressed the most. Martin Samuel in the Daily Mail calls Siddle a 'classic Aussie dark horse', while Malcolm Knox, in a column for the Sydney Morning Herald, analyses why Siddle and Anderson found success on the first day.
What Siddle had discovered was the humble off stump half-volley. On this wicket, a few full balls might have gone for four, but the others bent in the thick air or nipped off the crusty wicket. Anything pitched within a step of the batsman's crease was a chance. Loose technique and concentration at the other end would do the rest. Only Siddle, among the Australian pacemen, had the wit to realise this and the control over his nerves to execute it.
In a piece in Man's World magazine, Sharda Ugra shares her experience of being a ghostwriter on two vastly different cricket biographies - John Wright's Indian Summers and Yuvraj Singh's The Test of My Life: From Cricket to Cancer and Back.
Now that the books are done, in hindsight, I think it would be close to impossible to take on an ultramarathon without either affinity or respect for the subject. A key commandment? Abandon your ego and your own stylistic imprints, replicate the narrator's own voice. The book, after all, belongs not to you but to the sportsman whose life it contains. It is he who must speak, authentically and credibly, to the reader and hold their attention. That's what you're there for.
The longest-running sports annual in history, The Wisden Cricketers' Almanack has remained steadfast through wars and global crises and even technological revolutions. In Wisden India, six editors of the Almanack share their thoughts on what it means to be a Wisden editor.
The Kanga Memorial Library at Wankhede Stadium, Mumbai, a beloved haunt for cricket history buffs and probably one of the only sporting libraries in the country, is fighting for survival with administrative apathy. In the Mid day, Clayton Murzello explores the library to find some its rarest classics moth-eaten and dust-laden.
First-timers to the Wankhede Stadium won't find the library without having to ask around simply because there are no sign boards leading to the premises which comes in between the plush Cricket Centre and the Wankhede Stadium. The dark alley leading to the library is indicative of the times.
Ted Corbett, in the Hindu, says in these days of rapid-fire Twenty20 and so many websites dedicated to cricket, Wisden might not be really necessary, but in traditional cricket circles it still has time to live.
Whenever I visit Lord's I see old men taking their grandsons -- rarely granddaughters I note -- along the same route the old and the young trod heaven knows how many years ago. Those young men will be taught to identify players without names and numbers, to applaud each fifty, each small partnership and even clap the players as they walk off for tea. One day granddad will buy their first bat and grumble about the price, as my mother did all those summers ago, and maybe even present them with their first Wisden -- now £50, the cost of a bottle of champagne -- and teach them to find their way from Notes by the Editor to the funny little tales in the back.
Cricket writing is once again finding the diversity in its voice, after years of shying away from big stories. In his review of the best cricket books for the Wisden Cricketers' Almanack (featured in the Guardian), John Crace profiles five books, including Bookie, Gambler, Fixer, Spy, that reveal the best and worst of cricket.
Best of all, cricket writing is back on the money. Literally. There is no bigger story in cricket at the moment than its finances - particularly in regard to illegal betting. Predictably, the International Cricket Council is not that keen to investigate; its efforts limited to setting up any number of sub-committees that invariably seem to discover next to nothing. Cricket's writers have been far bolder and more successful on a fraction of the budget.
Often called the 'cricketing Bible', almost to the point of a cliché, Wisden Cricketers' Almanack will release its 150th edition next week. As he traces the history of Wisden and the challenges it faces in the modern era, former editor Matthew Engel writes in the Financial Times that Wisden offers "the illusion of timelessness, which is at the heart of cricket's appeal".
"I am not sure anyone quite understands it. What I have learnt is that it appeals most to people who love books first, and cricket second, not the other way round. That collectability is crucial. And that what readers love most is the way, searching for one fact, one gets diverted for hours: it is a reference book double-plus. Plus there is that solid, distinctive name: as Australian writer Murray Hedgcock once pointed out, Wisden would never have worked had the founder been John Smith, Jones or Robinson."
In the Telegraph, Simon Briggs says the iconic yellow jacket still marks a fixed point in a disorder world.
Stephen Moss pays tribute to the classic that reminds him of a brick. In the Observer, he muses that perhaps the real reason to collect it is so that "one can build a small house, a protection against the real world that helps its readers forget that time must move on."
There are few books on cricket that have had as powerful and as lasting an impact as CLR James' Beyond a Boundary. Fifty years after its publication, it is still regarded by many as the greatest book on the game. Writing in the Guardian, Selma James, wife of CLR, shares her insights into a book that her husband "had to write".
Establishing early the interconnection between cricket and race and class divisions opens the way for Beyond a Boundary to fulfil its author's full purpose: to draw out other startling connections - cricket and art, life in ancient Greece, even rewriting English social history with cricket's great WG Grace as a crucial figure. As startling as his connections is the light he sheds on each - not only cricket but every subject benefits from shattering boundaries. We are invited to reject the fragmenting of reality, and to see its diverse interconnections without which we are prevented from ever knowing anything fully - including our own reality. What do they know of cricket, or anything, if it is walled off from every other aspect of life and struggle?
The Nightwatchman, a new quarterly magazine from Wisden Cricket, features articles from various popular cricket writers. In the inaugural issue, among others, Christian Ryan deconstructs the genius of Shivnarine Chanderpaul while historian James Holland retraces the life of English spinner Hedley Verity, who was killed during the Second World War. Sample the offerings here.