Fun and games
Caught and Told by Sandeep Patil and Clayton Murzello (Roli Books, 120pp)
Heard the one about Madan Lal hurling invective at the Chief Minister of Assam? Or about how Aunshuman Gaekwad arrived in Australia on the 1977-78 tour to be asked if he "came here to die"? Caught and Told, a collection of anecdotes compiled by former India batsman Sandeep Patil, and journalist Clayton Murzello, features these and more. The authors have spoken to a range of cricketers (both current and former), coaches, administrators, and journalists to put together this offbeat pocket-sized book.
Cricket being a long drawn-out game affords its characters plenty of chances for self-expression. Spectators, though, remain largely unaware of the banter and pranks behind the scenes. Books such as this one help fill that gap, and provide a more rounded picture of the players.
This slim volume also offers rare insight into cricket at the lower levels, introducing us to characters we haven't heard of, among them the likes of club cricketers Harendra "Kaandli" Upadhyaya, and Trupen Desai, and the eccentricities with which they enlivened the maidans.
Caught and Told isn't without its warts. Anecdotes are best when crisp. Some of the stories here have long, rambling sentences that could have done with better editing. And some, unaccompanied by context, lose their punch when narrated in third person. Also, the contributors are just mentioned by name, leaving the reader in the dark about whether they were or are players, journalists, or administrators.
You'd probably go for Ramachandra Guha's The States of Indian Cricket for a more focused anecdotal romp, but Caught and Told will come very handy on a rainy day, especially when you're with a group of cricket crazies.
Siddhartha Vaidyanathan is staff writer of Cricinfo