Sunday, December 21, 2014

Playing it my way - Sachin Tendulkar's Autobiography Review

I had pre-ordered for Hard Bound copy of this book on flipkart before it was released. Was very happy to receive it and started reading immediately. Finished first 100 pages in my first sitting itself. There should have been Reading Comprehension test on topics like cricket, I would have done way better than I would otherwise do.

It is among the most anticipated cricket book ever because his playing days coincided with my watching days. He was a hero, role model for performance and god. Nation's cricketing fortunes depended on him. He was the symbol of developing India, a man from middle class background going on to achieve unimaginable things. His statistics are among the most memorable and unsurmountable figures but his impact goes beyond the numbers.

It is one book where as a reader, I knew 80% of the facts before reading. Reading therefore was a happy revision of his cricketing performance. That's why the high reading speed and comprehension. Still reading enabled me to understand the human side of Tendulkar. How he aspired to live in his own house. I felt whats the big deal, many ordinary people like us have a own house and somebody who made so many revered cricketing stadiums like his home is aspiring to have his own house? That shows like many people he is after all a human being. Similarly he always wanted to sit at home, do nothing, just spend time with family, doing ordinary things like shopping, watching movies, going on long drive, listening to music, have fancy cars, please his mother, coach or neighbors. How much he wanted to win the world cup, how happy he was to get a call from Prime Minister on getting Bharat Ratna or getting his stamp released.

He always says numbers don't matter to him but team results do. But on reading between the lines, I felt numbers matter to him a lot. But there is nothing wrong in obsession with numbers because those numbers add up to team's cause. Some instances where numbers were chased were
1. When was left stranded on 194* in Multan Test and how angry he got with captain Rahul Dravid.
2. How the monkey of 100 international 100s was affecting his performance for over a year since World Cup. How many times he came agonisingly close to it only to be disappointed.
3. How Sri Lankans deprived his ODI 100 through negative tactics and Suraj Randiv noball to Sehwag on 99 with only a winning run remaining.
4. Idea of playing the 200th test and playing it on home ground Wankhede Stadium
5. His book itself is full of match details and career records and statistics.

For a great individual performer in a team sport, he always wants to team also to do well and best way to enable it is by being a leader/captain. Unfortunately for him, he wasn't successful as captain. It again goes to show the human side of the great man. As a great performer, you set very high standards, but you also expect others to match those standards, but others don't and you get frustrated. Instead of accepting it as it is and trying best to work with it, you futilely try to bring others to those high standards. This is where Tendulkar failed. After 25 Tests he realised this and resigned from captaincy. Sometimes a hero like Tendulkar is beyond BCCI and Selection committee. He cannot be dropped as player or stripped off captaincy when is a captain or cannot be forced/eased into retirement until he takes these decisions himself.

The book though is not very well written, it is not entirely Tendulkar's fault. He is a cricket player and not a book author, but he must be congratulated for keeping up the time and releasing exactly 1 year after his retirement. His farewell speech was greatly composed, he just wrote down the names of the people whom he wanted to remember in a slip of paper and the speech came out of his mouth brilliantly despite all emotions surrounding. It had no filler words like basically, you know, actually etc. It came out as if it was prepared and rehearsed multiple times.

I also have a similar autobiography from Steve Waugh, it was pretty boring with just accounts of each match and series which we can easily find in scoreboards. I expect books from someone like Rahul Dravid to be very well written.