Since the moment I bought it on Amazon, I was dying to get my hands on Sachin Tendulkar’s autobiography ‘Playing It My Way’. Sachin Tendulkar is the greatest cricketer my generation has seen. For me and millions others like me, Tendulkar features prominently across all our cricket memories. Now that I have the book and I have finished reading first 100 pages, I have some mixed feelings about the book. Here is a summary of my initial impressions.
- One question almost every cricket fan wants answered is, ‘What made him the way he is?’. One gets a reasonable idea of how he was groomed into a professional cricketer with impeccable work ethic. It’s also impressive to see the absolute support he received from his family and how strongly his family, especially his brother Ajit, believed in him.
- The book is written in the same tone of humility that his on-field behaviour demonstrated throughout his career. There are no extravagant adjectives and none of his achievements are overstated.
- Tendulkar’s stint at Yorkshire as their first overseas recruit is something Indian fans don’t know well. The account of his stint there is not only something novel but is also written with some very humurous anecdotal descriptions.
- While he talks in detail about himself and his performances during his initial years, he looks completely oblivious to the transition that Indian cricket was undergoing back then. For example, he talks about sacrifising his wicket at Sialkot (his second test) to let Azharuddin complete a well deserved century. However he completely ignores the fact that this was a century that defined Indian cricket for next decade. Azhar was on the verge of being dropped and this century saved his place in the team. A few months later, Azhar became India’s Captain and with some interruptions captained India for next ten years.
- Also he doesn’t talk about the importance of his second foreign tour – to New Zealand – in 1990. This tour was a big experiment. Except Kapildev, almost all senior players were dropped (including three ex-captains; Shastri, Srikanth and Vengsarkar) and under Azharuddin’s captaincy a new-look Indian team was sent to New Zealand. It was called a team for the 90s. Azharuddin was an inexperienced captain and had huge responsibility on his shoulders.
- He also doesn’t talk about some excellent innings played by Azharuddin during this period. Especially his 192 at Auckland and 179 at Headingley.
- He doesn’t mention two very important tours either. First, South Africa’s tour to India for three one-dayers in 1990. This was huge. It was South Africa’s come back tour and in the first game at Eden Gardens, the unofficial number of spectators was more than 100,000. Sachin was man of the match in the first game. For the first time the world had a glimpse of Allan Donald. Another memory I have of this series is that of Clive Rice bowling to Sachin Tendulkar. Clive Rice, captain of South Africa, was 42 years old and Sachin hadn’t even celebrated his 18th Birthday. Technically it was the oldest (playing cricketer) to the youngest. Another tour he doesn’t talk about is India’s tour to Zimbabwe in 1992 where Zimbabwe played there first test. Nothing interesting happened on that tour, except for the fact that Zimbabwe became ninth test playing nation.