Sunday, May 30, 2010

A must read

I'm currently reading A Corner Of A Foreign Field by Ramachandra Guha. This is also the first time I'm incorporating an image into this blog and it's not a photo blog, which makes this post all the more significant, although the layout might look crap by the time I'm done with this.
But that's not the point.
While I'm not done with the book entirely, I'm not in a place to do an overall review of it, which is why I'm just raising a few issues regarding the way the game was played then and how it is now.
If you read the book, barring technology and the use of protective gear, the game hasn't changed. 
In fact, it has gone back to it's original form, with a few tweaks here and there. 
For example, the type of umpiring then. If a decision was given against an Englishman, he had the right to appeal against it. However, it wasn't the same for the local players, but despite that they wouldn't fare so badly. There was an instance of a match an English batsman, refusing to walk claiming that the wicketkeeper had dislodged the bails when he was actually bowled. Harris was declared out, but the media particularly the Times of India, which was owned by the English at that time criticized the local umpires and claimed that only the English could umpire the matches. 
Eventually in the quadrangular, there were neutral umpires for each game i.e. a Muslim would officiate a game between the English and the Hindus and the English and Parsis; Hindus would officiate games between the English and the Muslims and the English and Paris and so on. The ICC eventually changed the rule of one local umpires in a test match early this century, which is quite bizarre, considering that the Raj was okay with it in the early 20th century.
The book, however, mainly speaks on the Palwankars, probably the first great cricketing family led by Palwankar Baloo, India's first great cricketer. People of course speak of KS Ranjitsinhji as India's first great cricketer, but Ranji himself played for England and had always felt that the Indian style of playing the game was not the right way, in terms of technique. This is probably why Guha narrowed down on Baloo while writing the book.
The book on the whole is more caste and history that went around the game. There are no scorecards or statistics, except for Baloo's and probably CK Nayudu's. It's an evolution of the game to the religion it has become in India. Guha doesn't disappoint again, which is why I recommend the book to both cricket and non-cricket lovers

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