Friday, March 20, 2015

Guts & Glory - Makarand Waigankar

I do like the kind of stuff Makarand Waigankar puts out. He puts some context, some story for future generations to read and not merely stats or overglorified bios of players. I do like to hear those little anecdotes, back stories that makes some people different.

In Guts and Glory he profiles Indian cricketers in pairs (even trios) - Pataudi and Jaisimha (my mentor and guide), Bishen Bedi, Chandra and Prasanna, Wadekar and Sardesai, Gavaskar and Vishwanath, Vengsarkar and Mohinder, Kapil Dev and Shastri, Tednulkar and Sehwag, Dravid and Laxman, Dhoni and Kohli, Ganguly and Yuvraj, Kumble and Harbhajan, Dhawan, Rohit and Jadeja.

Its full of tales and anecdotes and offers a great peek into their lives. The flair and style of Jaisimha and Pataudi did not in any way diminish their interest to excel at the game, and to think about it constantly and get results they wanted. I have played and benefited from ML Jaisimha's personality, wisdom and distilled knowledge as a rookie player for Marredpally Cricket Club and I can imagine how it must have been to meet two such people at one time. They were leaders, both, and men of extraordinary calibre. I have never had the opportunity to meet Pataudi and I consider it my misfortune.

Bishen Bedi, Prasanna and Chandrashekhar also belong to an era when we grew up. Bishen Bedi is also a prince among men. I sent him a copy of 50 Not Out with a friend of mine - Rajaraman. The next day morning at the stroke of 7, I get a call. 'Is that Harimohan? I am Bishen Singh Bedi speaking.' He spoke about the book. But again the calibre of these men - to acknowledge the smallest of gestures, to flow with the universe, to make lesser mortals feel bigger. Wonderful stuff. I would certainly like to meet Prasanna and Chandrashekhar too in my next sojourn to Bangalore.

Much of Wadekar and Sardesai is known to me thanks to this book at home - Wadekar's biography 'My Cricketing Days'.  I remember devouring every word of that lovely book, imbibing the images, feeling the highs and lows they felt. I remember the wonderful series Dilip Sardesai had in the West Indies. The book brings out the fun part of Sardesai - yeh popatwad bowler hai!

Gavaskar and Vishwanath were the heroes we grew up idolising. One wonders what mindsets they carried to excel as they did. They were extremely correct, aimed higher and higher, and took their game to another level when the Indian consciousness was still reeling under British colonial left overs and our own embarrassment at wanting anything, even to win in a game. They carried misfitting mindsets in those times and sought to excel - tough - but they did it.

Save the first two gentlemen, most others came from normal backgrounds and made it big despite their limitations. They had the same issues, challenges and rose above them all.

Lovely anecdotes. Wonderful caricatures. And once again a fine attempt at capturing a part of cricketing history and lives of legendary personalities through its stories. 'Guts & Glory' is a nice easy read with enough punch to make it a must-read if you're aspiring to do anything with cricket or with excellence.

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