As the Indian cricket team gears to defend the World Cup title in just a few weeks, Soumya Bhattacharya, novelist and editor, Hindustan Times, Mumbai, released his latest work — the first comprehensive appraisal of the future of the team after Sachin Tendulkar’s retirement.
The book After Tendulkar: The New Stars of Indian Cricket was launched on Monday, with a conversation between the author and actor and activist Rahul Bose.
After Tendulkar juxtaposes the master batsman’s iconic farewell match against the West Indies at Wankhede Stadium with the rise of five talents — MS Dhoni, Virat Kohli, Cheteshwar Pujara, Rohit Sharma and Shikhar Dhawan.
Bhattacharya considers each of these cricketers -- first as individuals, tracing their journeys into international cricket, and then as a team, gauging what the future holds for them. It also speaks of Ajinkya Rahane and Murali Vijay, among other promising players.
“In December 2013, David Davidar, the publisher of Aleph, got in touch with my literary agent, David Godwin, and asked if I would be interested in writing a book on India’s new cricket order in the post-golden-generation era,” said Bhattacharya. “The more I watched this young team play, the more the idea gripped me.”
Bhattacharya said the book also gave him the opportunity to share his opinion on Dhoni and his changing captaincy post-2011.
“Many of the things that worked for him before 2011 — being Captain Cool, unfazed and so on — worked against him later,” Bhattacharya said. “He visibly changed as a person, greeting with a slightly contemptuous sneer questions that he did not like, showing signs of detachment in Test cricket. I don’t think Tests interest him anymore; he relinquished the right to captain India in that format long ago.”
This is a book for the literary cricket fan, Bhattacharya added. “I wanted it not to be a regular cricket book riddled with jingoism, but to bring literary devices from fiction writing into the realm of non-fiction.”