Yes the review is very late, but that is mostly because I didn’t actually read the book. I heard the audiobook, which was released recently.
Now Sachin Tendulkar has probably been the best batsman to have ever played the game. It had been my utmost pleasure to follow his game very closely, and more or less his public life had been an open book by virtue of being on the field of cricket or in the limelight for most of his life. So I wasn’t expecting much from the book since I had read some reviews, but I simply couldn’t give it a miss.
Overall, I was very disappointed by the book. There is hardly anything in the book that his millions of die-hard fans already did not know. The book follows a sort of monologue narrating his life through Indian cricket. It goes from one series to the other, one century to the other. And sometimes it comes off as a little pompous. For instance he talks about an incident wherein while playing club cricket a spin bowler beat him in the air and for all money had him stumped. But the wicket keeper failed to collect the ball, and he had enough time to get back into the crease. However, instead of what all 100% of cricketers would have done, Sachin decided to get his wicket to the bowler by not getting back in the crease because he felt that the bowler deserved his wicket. Now if you ask me, I cannot verify the genuineness of the incident, and it does come off as a little far-reaching.
However even apart from this one incident, the book just follows a path that tries to establish him as a genius. The problem is that we know he is a genius. It had been apparent in his 24 years on the cricket field. What the reader expects is to get an idea of Sachin’s life beyond what is already public knowledge. And he fails at providing that insider view into his life. Moreover, Sachin refuses to speak about the other more controversial incidents that happened in Indian cricket. He casually glides over the match fixing scandals of 1999, and the spot fixing scandal of IPL. As the biggest face of Indian cricket I was looking forward to understand what was going on inside Indian cricket at these times, and what was his role in the whole controversy.
The only controversy he really talks about is when Rahul Dravid declared while he was batting on 194 against Pakistan. At least we as his fans got to hear his side of the story. We got to hear what really was happening in those final moments when his innings was called off so close to a double hundred. And how angry it made him and what the whole miscommunication was about.
Finally, while listening to the last few parts of the book it does bring a lump in my throat. Mostly because it narrates the days leading up to his retirement and it made me feel exactly how I had felt on 16th November 2013. Reliving the whole retirement party in his words is bound to make his fans shed a tear or two.
In conclusion, I believe the book could have been so much more.