Chronicling an epoch-making World Cup win
Publishing books to sync with big occasions and events have been de rigueur in the Indian publishing industry. The ICC Cricket World Cup, which is currently underway, is definitely one that could not have been missed. The quick book releases to exploit its potential to the optimum and entertain the waiting fans of the game in the process have surely happened.
Leading publishers have resorted to different positioning techniques to differentiate their books from others. Nikhil Naz's 'Miracle Men', which advertises itself as 'The greatest underdog story in cricket' has a nice cover illustration of the players who won the 1983 World Cup for India. The blurb has laudatory references about it from two greats of the game – Sachin Tendulkar and VVS Laxman, with the former hailing it as 'fine storytelling'.
It usually raises suspicions in hardboiled reviewers whenever such brazen pitching is done. More often than not, their worst fears about the book are confirmed as they run through the pages. In this case, however, using a very breezy narrative style in which the author liberally intermixes the milieu of the 1980s Britain, the Indian diaspora and their lives, it affirms what it wants to attain: blending nostalgia with the big occasion when our country surprised everyone in the cricketing fraternity with its victory.
Going behind the scenes, in fact into the dressing room environment of the Indian team, their bus travels, their public interactions with the crazy 'desi' crowd and how one of them places a bet on his motherland pledging his hard-earned money to be provided a lucky turn of events have all been interestingly chronicled. The easy-paced nature of the team's routines, the relative lack of commercialisation in that era when the passion for the game and settling scores between players of rival teams mattered have all been written about well. Particularly interesting is the story of Mintu Singh whose son, born in the UK, has no love lost for India and how he turns a supporter as the World Cup tournament comes to an end.
Social media has enough dope on the author and as one website proclaims: 'Nikhil Naz is an award-winning TV anchor and Consulting Editor, Sports, NDTV. During his 16-year long career as a sports journalist, he has reported on multiple global sporting events like – the FIFA World Cup, ICC Cricket World Cup, and the Summer Olympic Games amongst others. He is the brains behind India's first literary festival on sports- SporTale and is ranked in the top two per cent of social media influencers in the cricket community by social media analytics and intelligence platform 'Klear'. He is also a certified soccer coach'.
Achievements galore may be, yet, taking up a hugely popular game like cricket and writing about an epoch-making achievement like the 1983 World Cup victory which changed the face of Indian cricket forever is an attempt which is fraught with enough risks. Naz sidesteps every threat effortlessly as his attention to detail, the journalistic style of blending the immediate atmosphere of the location with the proceedings of the game work out blemishless. In the end, one is happy having read a good, interesting book which provides a glimpse of the life and times of our countrymen and how this very event made them go quite a few notches higher in British society's rankings where prejudices were stacked against them everywhere.