March-April is usually exam time for schoolchildren. But with the World Cup upon us, I fear the only study this year is going to be of the dozens of cricket books. Ashis Ray’s book is part of this timely offer to the young, just ahead of the World Cup in the West Indies next month. Meticulously researched and produced, it gives the entire history of India’s one-day matches. This will be manna for all schoolboys. I should know, having been an avid fan of the Amarnaths, Hazares and Vinoo Mankads. We loved to cut out and keep score-sheets from newspapers. With his intimate knowledge and association with the game, Ray has packed in plenty of stories to amuse and interest readers. India’s glorious win of 1983 under a courageous captain, full of high endeavour and remarkable individual effort, has been well brought out, emphasising for our team as they venture across the seas the need for bold leadership, a never-say-die spirit, and above all, absolute unity in effort.
One-day cricket is a young man’s game. Crossing 30 makes all the difference between a perfect square cut and a thin snick. Superhuman fitness is required. Have we not seen catches taken by Strauss, Collingwood and Ponting? Our boys are only India-level fit, that is, 30 per cent below the world level. Many need to trim down the fat.