Book review: Mid-Wicket Tales
Mid-Wicket Tales – From Trumper to Tendulkar
Authors: S Giridhar and V J Raghunath
Pages: 235 (Paperback)
Publisher: Sage Publications
Cricket is made up of many elements. It has three formats which can be between 3 hours and 5 days long, strange rules and idiosyncrasies and plenty of colourful characters. And it has, as Ravi Shastri often says, three possible results. It also has a rich and well-documented history; so much so that the amount of literature on the sport is staggering.
‘Mid-Wicket Tales – From Trumper to Tendulkar’ is a collection of essays that taps into this rich supply of cricketing prose and combines it with the author's own first-hand experiences of the game. And the outcome is compelling. To put it simply, the 26 essays take turns to doff their broad hats to the various species and genus’ of cricketers (and certain individuals) that together make the sport.
The authors point out at the very beginning that in all likelihood this will not be a book you will read in one go. They are spot on when they suggest that you are likely to pick and choose the chapters that catch your attention. And skimming through the index, quite a few caught my eye.
‘Fab Four – Once in a Lifetime Line-Up’ talks about the famous Indian spin quartet of the 60s and 70s, their coming together and their fading away, and juxtaposes it with the other Fab Four that we are more familiar with.
‘All About Opening Batsmen’ makes a point when it says that life for nearly everyone is just a tad bit easier when the opening men click. They examine the fortunes of all the great sides and, not surprisingly, their periods of success coincides with them having a formidable opening pair. They further classify the openers into two categories, the classical openers and the dashing ones and take a look at some of the best specimens in these categories.
‘Leg Before Wicket: The Changing Paradigm’ offers insight into that one passage of the game which is probably the most difficult to understand. Has the formation of the ICC Elite Panel of Umpires lead to more LBW dismissals? What do umpires have to do to get LBWs right? Do modern batsmen get dismissed LBW more often?
Another interesting thing that shines through the book is the generous use of numbers and statistics. That the cricket lover loves the numbers is given. The book has many tables that the authors present every time they have a point to make. One of the most interesting tables is to be found in the 2nd chapter. As the authors discuss the brilliance of Kapil Dev, they present a table that points out something that you may not have ever noted about the former Indian captain. Kapil is comfortably above all his peers and successors when it comes to rotating the strike. This struck me as highly noteworthy. Even if you include all the modern-day cricketers, those that bring to mind images of haring between the wickets, Kapil is still comfortably clear!
The authors love for cricket shines through each page and you realise that this what ‘cricket romanticism’ is. ‘Mid-Wicket Tales – From Trumper’ to Tendulkar is a perfect companion to the connoisseur of cricket. If you enjoy the variety that is in the sport and its sportspersons and would like to learn a bit more about their ilk then this book is for you.