Eleven Gods And A Billion Indians by Boria Majumdar: Review

Title: Eleven Gods And A Billion Indians

Author: Boria Majumdar

Publisher: Simon Schuster

Pages: 450

Price: Rs. 699


In the past, a lot has been spoken and written about the happenings on the nine yards (the cricket pitch, for the uninitiated) and its periphery. One man who dared to see beyond the ropes of the boundary lines, straight into the corridors leading towards the dressing rooms and administrative whispers is Boria Majumdar. Eleven Gods And A Billion Indians: The on and off the field story of cricket in India and beyond is one book that undoubtedly steers interest of every cricket lover, but also of those who dislike cricket as a sport for various reasons.

From the first Test India played in 1932 to the current cricketing extravaganza of Indian Premier League (IPL), Boria has managed to keep the readers glued to the book with a lot of twists and turns we always heard and read about the Indian cricket, but never got the actual insight into it. Influence of money, the political ambit of BCCI and its impact on the accountability of the administration of the richest cricketing board in the world to the credibility of certain biggies in Team India on and off the field makes the book more interesting.

As you turn the pages and move from one chapter to the other, you revisit all those incidents which once upon a time made you sit back and rethink about the game you once considered your religion. From the match-fixing saga to Sourav Ganguly-Greg Chappell tug-of-war and from Monkeygate to Lalitgate, Boria uses his expertise and access to the world of cricket to leave no stone unturned to offer the readers all that they ever wanted to know.

Boria’s proximity to the former Indian skipper is evident in the first few chapters of the book when you happen to read Ganguly opening up about various incidents in regard to his differences with the Kolkata Knight Riders head coach John Buchanan and much-spoken, reported and seen on television, his spat with fellow teammate, Rahul Dravid. And, when you see the cover of the book, you authenticate that every word and instances mentioned about Dada and his bouts hold true to the core. As on the cover is a quote from Ganguly who says, “Boria has documented the history of Indian cricket with precision and elegance.”

Stalwarts like Ganguly scripted the Indian crickets’ history in more than one way and researchers like Boria presented it to the core for the Billion Indians.Some of Boria’s findings and reportage in black and white makes Eleven Gods And A Billion Indians a book for academic pursuits. The following two facts mentioned below hold valuable lessons for students of Advertising, Public Relations (PR) and Managerial skills, besides the worshiper of cricket.

According to a study, a single game of cricket affords 127 different ways to advertise a product on television. As Union Agriculture Minister in 2006, Sharad Pawar was on television not more than once every fortnight. As BCCI, president, he was on television more than twice a day.

On the issue of veto power resting with some of the senior players for selection as well as rejection of the coach, Boria introduces us to another known, yet unknown, facet of Indian cricket. He writes that in a dismaying departure from international norms, current Indian players enjoy veto power on who can be the members of the commentary team. And goes on to raise a valid question, by asking if it is to be coaches next, then perhaps the selectors and even office-bearers will follow?

The book loaded with incidents, facts and figures offer the readers a rare collection of photographs ranging from various yesteryear cricketers to vintage scorecards some of them carrying advertisements of Wilson (VacOfil Pen) or Bosfa (Top Brand Washing Soap). The India vs New Zealand, third Test played on March 12, 1965 scorecard book had Ralifan Ad on top and Sosyo Drink Ad at the bottom and at the centre was the Ad of Manoj Kumar-Kumud Chhugani starrer film Poonam Ki Raat.

Personally, I could not agree more than what professional shooter and Olympic Gold medallist, Abhinav Bindra has said about the book. “This book is a gripping read and a page-turner. It gives you the low-down on the nexus between power politics and the billions that make up cricket in India. The insider details will make sure you cannot put this book down,” he says.

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