On November 6, 2014, thousands of impatient cricket fans from all over the world will finally be able to purchase Sachin Tendulkar's eagerly awaited autobiography Playing It My Way. No doubt the book will go on to sell millions of copies, thereby securing the financial future of the Tendulkar household and not at all impacting sales of books by other authors, who anyway have plenty of royalty earnings to finance their lavish lifestyles with.
Little known to these fans, however, is the name of another book that will be releasing the same day that will sell far fewer copies. This book may not rake in the millions for its author, Kishore Ambwani, but it is as deserving of scrutiny by the cricketing fraternity as Tendulkar's "autobiography".
Ambwani's autobiography is named Haters Will Hate (With Statistics): Sachin Can Take The Highway. This book is the riveting story of a man who has spent his entire life being a Sachin sceptic. However, this "rowing against the current" has not come without a great personal and professional cost for Ambwani.
Sidin Vadukut, ESPNcricinfo's literary mentor and cultural connoisseur, recently spoke to Ambwani about his life and his forthcoming book.
Sidin Vadukut: Hello Mr. Ambwani, firs -
Kishore Ambwani: BOSS EVEN I CAN SCORE 152 AGAINST NAMIBIA!
KA: Oh. Sorry, sorry. I just assume that any stranger who walks up to me is a Sachin fanatic.
SV: Is this a huge problem?
KA: Tremendous problem. Especially after this bloody T20 format. At least previously during the 50-over games these fellows would sit at home for eight or nine hours, plus presentation. These days you find them everywhere, sitting and discussing cover drives for 45 minutes. This is why I had to move my family to Kolkata many hundreds of kilometres away from any Tendulnuts.
SV: So when did you first realise that you were a critic of Sachin Tendulkar?
KA: From the very moment I first laid my eyes on him. This was back in the day when I was working in Mumbai. I never used to be a cricket fan. Then I saw this newspaper article about these two schoolboys who had batted for three months without getting out. And my immediate thought was: "Boss, these fellows don't get any rash from excessive sweating under the Bombay sun or what?" My next thought was: "No chance that any of these chaps are going to get into IIT or IIM and add any value to this country."
And my prediction has been proven 100% true.
SV: But did you not think it was remarkable when Tendulkar debuted for India at such a young age?
KA: What nonsense! People don't remember how bad the cricket team in those days used to be. Anybody with two legs, two hands and bad hair ( reaches for a coconut kept in a drawer of his bedside table) even this coconut would have got into the Indian team during that period, provided it was from Bombay. It was a joke.
SV: Fair enough. In the early days it would have been easy to criticise Sachin. But later it must have been very hard, as he became more popular?
KA: Yes. But the trick is to do it subtly. I recall in 1993 or 1994 my company organised a "Greatest Batsman In The World" theme party for all the staff. So I went dressed as Saeed Anwar. It was hilarious, except that I got transferred to the warehouse department.
SV: What about that desert storm innings in Sharjah?
KA: Oh yes, that was a very realistic innings at Sharjah no?
SV: (laughs elegantly but with a hint of ruggedness) You previously said that you were not originally a fan of cricket.
KA: That is correct. I am still not a fan of cricket.
SV: So is that why you dislike Sachin? Because you dislike the sport itself?
KA: Not at all. If I wanted to hate any single individual who could possibly represent the sport, I would have hated actually great players such as Brian Lara or Don Bradman or Sam Trumpington.
SV: Is there a cricketer called Sam Trumpington?
KA: No. I just say that to make Sachin fans go and waste three days desperately going through the ESPNcricinfo archives to prove that Tendulkar is better than Trumpington. Great fun. I once made a fake Sam Trumpington Wikipedia profile with Sangakkara's statistics and an old photo of Intikhab Alam. Tendulnuts went mad vandalising the page.
SV: But going back to my previous question: why do you dislike Sachin Tendulkar?
KA: I don't dislike him. He may be a nice guy. I think he is an overrated cricketer. But his fans are the most unbearable things in the whole world. Horrible chaps.
SV: Have you ever had any Sachin fans in your family?
KA: My son is a huge fan of Sachin. Unfortunately his full name is VV Sandeep Jacques Kallis Ambwani. At home we call him by his pet name: Rahul. Drives him insane.
SV: But don't you think that some of the criticism against Sachin is unfair and spiteful?
KA: Maybe. But my biggest problem with him is that he hung around for too long. Way, way too long. If I was in his position I would have enjoyed that initial boom period, broken all the records and then immediately got out of it in the late '90s. Oh wait
SV: Is this how you speak always? Constantly making digs at Sachin?
KA: Not intentionally. It has now become an automatic response for me. I don't even do it consciously. Take the case of last week. There was some social media contest to photoshop a picture of Sachin Tendulkar into various places in the world. Immediately, without even thinking, I sent them a picture of the Lord's Honours Board.
SV: How cruel. Finally, can you tell us about the book?
KA: Haters Will Hate (With Statistics): Sachin Can Take The Highway is the story of my life being critical of Sachin. It will be released on the same day as Sachin's book. I am very excited about it. The book will be priced at Rs 99.
SV: And what do you have on the cover?
KA: A picture of Sultan Zarawani bowling to Sachin in the Wills World Cup.