Monday, June 22, 2020

281 And Beyond

281 And Beyond by VVS Laxman & R. Kaushik

The book narrates VVS Laxman’s cricketing journey, in his own words, from his early days in Hyderabad to becoming one of India’s all-time great batsmen. However, it was not all smooth sailing and the journey is full of ups and downs.

The book gives us a glimpse into the goings on within the Indian dressing room as well as the struggles of cricketers in India. This is also a story of the change that has been brought from the semi-professional 1990s to now, how various aspects of the game have evolved – from fitness, money, communication aspects etc.

The book is a joy to read for the Indian fan, especially someone like yours truly. Flipping through the pages, you relive your cricket-following career. Every tour is discussed. The book goes chronologically from the haphazard mid-90s, match-fixing saga, John Wright’s arrival, new lows under Greg Chappell and the troubles he caused, the away victories, the Monkeygate series, the heights under Kirsten all unfold as a highlights reel. Have to say this, the Indian team was quite inconsistent throughout the era. Only now do we have a relatively consistent winning record!

I liked how VVS doesn’t mince words about his relationships within the team and how he reacted to different situations. Also, he has been quite honest about the disappointments of never getting a fixed spot, being dropped from Tests on and off and never really getting a chance in the white ball format. He also touches upon the mental issues of the game as well. The book particularly highlights the lack of communication in the setup where individual players are often left to fend for themselves.

I loved the bit where he talks about getting admitted to an MBBS course post-retirement and becoming a doctor. Imagine being motivated to study for 5 years after having lived a superstar life! However, he was talked out of this dream by his family and had to concentrate on cricket related activities only!

The book is titled aptly. Begins with THAT innings and then goes about telling the rest of the story!

In summary, a good read for the India cricket fan!