First things first. The Wisden India Almanack 2015, its third edition edited by seasoned cricket writer Suresh Menon, continues where its previous two editions left off: Giving the ardent lovers of cricket minute details of the game played the world over. The plethora of records – be it highest runs, highest wickets, highest totals, both domestic and Internationals, find a mention in this well-researched book. Such a rich amalgamation of facts in one edition is a mind-boggling exercise. And to put it all with such panache makes the edition special.
So what is that makes the 2015 version edited by Menon one to look out for? Well, there are some riveting columns that make for an invigorating reading. The clout that the bcci (Board of Control for Cricket in India) wields and how the icc (International Cricket Council), the game’s ruling body, has been pushed into the background is vividly brought out by Osman Samiuddin, a Pakistani sports writer at The National, the author of the Unquiet Ones – The History of Pakistan Cricket and who writes the column Great ICC tango and clash. Among his many points underscoring India’s dominance, Samiuddin says the economy of cricket is heavily skewed in favour of one country, which is India. The oft-quoted but mostly anecdotal statistic is about the Indian market generating anywhere between 70 to 80 per cent of cricket’s total revenue. That makes India and the bcci the power house of world cricket. And this attribute is quite apparent as all of the icc’s main sponsors in their last rights cycle were either Indian companies or the Indian hqs of sprawling multinationals.
My Way Or The Highway by R Mohan takes a look at the extraordinary stint of N Srinivasan as bcci president. He has written about how Srinivasan became the most powerful man in the bcci, who, despite intense media scrutiny, refused to be cowed down and remained defiant as bcci president until the Supreme Court stepped in and forced him to make way after the ipl-6 spot-fixing scandal. ‘Srini’ held a vice-like grip on the bcci but Justice Mukul Mudgal’s scathing report on the spot-fixing and the questioning of the functioning of the bcci rattled the bcci hierarchy. Further, the momentous political events consequently meant Srinivasan was no more the most powerful man of Indian cricket – that title having been taken over by Arun Jaitley, India’s finance minister.
It was to accommodate Jaitley that the zone-wise pre-qualification for election of bcci president was done away with. Considering the good equation Srinivasan shares with Jaitley and in turn Jaitley with Prime Minister Narendra Modi, there is no stopping the Srinivasan wave in Indian cricket. Srini may well be down but certainly not out.
Ayaz Memon, in his column Bookending the Rise of Indian Cricket, recounts the two most magnificent moments of Indian cricket that made them the power house that they are today. First is the epic win of the 1983 Prudential World Cup by the inspirational Kapil Dev and his men at Lord’s over Clive Lloyd’s mighty West Indies. With the 1983 win, India had transformed from a novice in one-day cricket into a force to reckon with. The win at Lord’s was a colossal moment for the game in India. And India have not looked back ever since. The wait for another World Cup was a bit long – 28 years. And like in 1983, India were skippered in the 2011 World Cup by the flamboyant superstar from Ranchi, Jharkhand, Mahendra Singh Dhoni. Fittingly MSD clinched the World Cup final in his inimitable style sending Sri Lankan seamer Nuwan Kulasekara’s delivery for a mighty six into the stands at Mumbai’s Wankhede stadium, causing the cricket-crazy nation to erupt in an unprecedented fashion. The 2011 World Cup triumph gave Sachin Tendulkar a trophy that was missing in his extraordinary career – a World Cup.
Other riveting columns include Vijay Hazare by Ramachandra Guha and Luck by Talent by Rajdeep Sardesai.