Man of letters
Rahul Bhatia reviews The A to Z of Sachin Tendulkar by Gulu Ezekiel
Early in his book Gulu Ezekiel acknowledges Alan Eason's influence on his work. Eason wrote The A to Z of Bradman in 2002, and Ezekiel produced The A to Z of Sachin Tendulkar last year. Both books are compilations of statistics, basic reportage, trivia, and odds and ends connected in the remotest of ways to the cricketers in question. In Ezekiel's, for instance, we read that Tendulkar's father-in-law played bridge for India. What use can we find for this except while making conversation with the man? But we are quickly on to the next entry and the one after that. The book doesn't linger - it presents information about Tendulkar alphabet-wise, without favour, and moves on.
As the title suggests, an A to Z attempts to cover every aspect of a subject. This requires the subject to be near the end - or to have ended - his journey. Here, the sole entry under "X" is a reminder that it may be the end of the road soon: "With a spate of injuries from 1999 to 2005, x-rays have become a part of Tendulkar's life..." The timing of the book is its one flaw. Eason's work was published after the Don died. Barring major revelations, amendments will be minimal in future editions. Ezekiel's, however, is a work in progress. Things have already changed since it was published. Tendulkar has now played 19 Tests versus England, as against the 16 the book says he has.
All the regular stuff is in here; but I enjoyed Ezekiel's book because of the offbeat snippets, of which there are plenty. In the space of three pages under "G", there's Sunil Gavaskar threatening to throttle Tendulkar if he retired with fewer than 40 Test hundreds, then the first bowler to bowl at him (his maid and babysitter, Laxmibai Ghirje) and, finally, Tendulkar denying that he is - as you suspect - God.
Rahul Bhatia is staff writer of Cricinfo Magazine