It has been almost eleven days of survival in a cricket-less land. As a fellow survivor, I feel what you are going through. But enough of that World Cricket Championship game you've been sitting on for long. Enough of this Netflix binge watching. The Amazon Prime subscription you got is now probably redundant because you have finished watching the Australian cricket documentary series. Now, let's get serious, do something real, something more meaningful and far more productive.
Get a cup of coffee, tell your mates that you've got important work to do, lock yourself up in your room, and open an e-reader on your phone because we're about to do something just as exciting as watching cricket.
Reading cricket is almost the same as living the sport all over again. It opens doors to new possibilities and new perspectives. How in the world did we hear about the great Sir Donald Bradman? Literature survives the test of time and holds a sweet bower constant for you to revisit when you need a dose of nostalgia, and nostalgia is all that is carrying us forward through these times.
So here are five cricket books that you should ponder over during these days to keep yourselves hooked to the gentleman's game. Binge over them losing all your earthy sense of day and time and nobody will complain. Because unlike Netflix and WCC2, this is an addiction worth cultivating.
#5 Eleven Gods and a Billion Indians by Boria Majumdar
If you have read Sachin Tendulkar's autobiography, you would know this feeling. Playing It My Way was a poignant drive down 24 years of Indian cricket history, through the highs of the 2011 World Cup win and the lows of the turn-of-the-millennium match fixing scandal that rocked Indian cricket, centering around the life of one man who saw it all from the best possible seat.
In Eleven Gods and a Billion Indians, cricket scholar and academician Boria Majumdar takes you through the history of cricket in the country, from the times of British rule to the Kumble-Kohli saga that pockmarked India's coast to the 2017 Champions, Trophy final.
With a lot of courage, Majumdar provides great insight and insider information into the many scandalous events of Indian cricket, like the 1983 World Cup win that propelled India up into the world of big-three cricket, the tussle between Sourav Ganguly and 'Guru Greg', 'Monkeygate', Lalit Modi and the coming of the IPL. If you are a cricket nerd, this book is the perfect fit for you.
Also, here is something you may already know, guess who co-authored Playing It My Way.
#4 The Test of My Life by Yuvraj Singh
This book is the only autobiography on this list. Sitting alone, idle and lonely on your couch, get a copy of The Test of My Life because as one of the appraisals for the book on its back cover says, it is 'pure inspiration'.
It is the story of a 29-year old man at the peak of his career, who dared to tempt fate by asking it to take away anything from him for the World Cup. It is the story of man who found himself alone, isolated and depressed, in a chilling street in Indianapolis and cried himself to sleep every night, four months after he was on the top of the world.
Reading this staggering tale of Yuvraj Singh's lion-hearted comeback and you will realize that there is more to life than cricket, which is eerily the most important lesson we need to take away from these times. You will laugh, you will cry, you will nostalgize, and finish this book with an invigorated smile on your face, before coming back later for more.
There is no better book to read if you're a Yuvi fan.
#3 Cricket 2.0 by Tim Wigmore and Freddie Wilde
It does not matter if you like T20 or if you are purist. Cricket 2.0 will reveal to you why and how this format, which started off as a shambolic slog fest somewhere in England, has become the future of the sport.
Through exclusive interviews with some of the game's biggest stars on and off the field, the book explores the growth of the IPL, the perceived impact of T20 over the other two traditional formats, and the cocktail of the elements of globalization that promises to take the game beyond borders that we thought it would never transcend.
Give it a read if you like T20 cricket. Read it even if you do not. Either way, this book will offer fascinating insight into the lives of the game's biggest contemporary superstars and change your perspective towards modern cricket. It will teach you to treat T20 as an entirely different sport.
#3 Steve Smith's Men by Geoff Lemon
You've already watched "the new era for Australia's team", courtesy of Amazon Prime. But that was only half the story. That was only the aftermath of the biggest scandal of Australian sport.
What prompted David Warner to charge into Quinton de Kock, what prompted Steve Smith to condone an act of unconscionable cheating, what prompted Cameron Bancroft to shove the evidence down his underpants, or why Darren Lehmann told his boys to lie at the press conference that night? All you know is that the impact of all of it was too much, and handed Australia an innings defeat in the next match. From the outside, the entire fiasco is dumpster fire to you.
Welcome to Steve Smith's Men, the tale of Australia's mammoth fall from the highs of a home Ashes win in December 2017 to the lows of Cape Town in February next year. You will meet an incomprehensible David, a powerless and submissive Steve, a rookie Cameron trying to establish himself in a side, and the coach Darren who cried at his last press conference. The book is brutal, and will leave you frowning, thinking, hours after you're done with it. Read the chapter 'David' with care, because it is arguably among the greatest pieces of cricket literature ever written, as this excerpt reveals:
Australia's most controversial modern player (Warner) is not two sides of a coin. He's more like a handful of twelve-sided dice. Any combination of facets could be true. Any of it could change in an instant. All of those possibilities are simultaneous. He probably knows as little about them as anyone.
#1 Golden Boy by Christian Ryan
It's the winner of Wisden's Finest Cricket Book ever written and that says enough about the book. Somewhere in the yellowing pages of Golden Boy, Christian Ryan writes:
In this country, people mistrust vaulting ambition. Kim's ambition vaulted out of every net he lit up and every interview he gave, but politely, seldom boastfully, with a flash of head boy's charm. How much of his self-assurance was inbuilt and how much it metastasized under Mr Parry and his endless hosannas was hard to tell, but people and not just opponents, did not like it.
It is the story of Kim Hughes as a flawed batting genius, who is remembered more for his tearful resignation as Australian cricket captain, than for his endless array of square cuts, pulls and drives.
Golden Boy reminds you why history is always written by the victors. It is the grave of one of Australia's least popular cricket captains, one that unlike the masses, resides in paper rather than peoples' hearts. The book is sporting literature at its finest and one of those once-in-a-lifetime experiences.