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What makes us who we are, to a large extent, is the things that we love, the things that we care about, even the things that we are obsessed with, millions of Indians over the decades have been shaped by cricket and united by the common love for this game. But today it's all changing. In the last few years, aided by technology, the world around us has been transformed and we live different lives today with many more choices and therefore much less time.


Who can watch the leisurely drama of districted unfold over five endless days? The rhythm of our lives has changed, and so has the way that most of us relate to cricket. Those of us who fell in love with the subtle and sophisticated game often lament how things are not the same, but is a greater lament directed perhaps towards ourselves. If so much of ourselves have been shaped by a game that itself seems out of place in this modern world, what does that say about us?


What are we really Lemonde?


Welcome to the Scene and The Unseen, our weekly podcast on economics, politics and behavioral science. Please welcome your host of Obama. Welcome to the scene in The Unseen. My guest today is a great historian and fellow cricket tragic, Ramachandra Guha, who has just released a delightful new book called The Commonwealth of Cricket, A Lifelong Love Affair with the most subtle and sophisticated game known to humankind. Contrary to the impression I might have given with my introduction earlier, this book is not a lament, but a celebration of cricket from a man who has been obsessed with it, played it at a decent level and has written about it extensively.


Rahm has been on my show three times before. We did a two part special on Mahatma Gandhi last year, which was all about history, and we did a popular Republic Day episode a few months ago, which was all about politics. Today's episode is going to be about cricket. A quick note before we move on, though, I teach two online courses on writing and podcasting and registration for both of them is open. Now, the art of curating builds a prism through which you can look at your own writing and that of others and which aims to make you your own best writing coach.


For more details and to sign up head on over to India on dot com slash curating the art of podcasting will give you conceptual tools on how to think about audio and podcasting and will feature deep dives into storytelling and interviewing to sign up. Go to see Nancy audience on both coasts, cost of 10000 plus GST, or about 150 dollars each. And they are linked from the Señores. And now it's time to get on with the show. But first, a quick commercial break.


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It's just one of the many great courses at the great courses plus. And you can get one month of unlimited free access if you use the following you around the great courses plus dot com slash unsign. That's right. Unsign the great Kosice plus dot com slash unseen for one month of unlimited free access. What are you waiting for? Ron, welcome to the scene of The Unseen, thank you. Around the last two times, the last three times, in fact, that you've been here, we've shared a number of different emotions, our mutual admiration for Mark McGowan, the mutual disdain for Narendra Modi and Rahul Gandhi.


And I was looking forward to this episode because of the statements about our mutual love of cricket. I just love reading your book. It brought back, you know, although you were writing it was almost like a story of your life with so many memories from my own life came back to me of having washed and fallen in love with different aspects of cricket. So, you know, in the spirit of Things, I want to begin this with the Luiseno.


You know, you're very fond of all time, enjoyed, you know, wickets in the east at all time levels of different states and provinces and so on. In this book, you've got all time levels of cricketers. You've shaken hands with cricket as you've seen in the flesh and so on. I'm going to ask you and I think all our listeners will be immediately picked up at this because everybody loves lists. So give me an all time Indian test 11.


Yeah. So Covestor and Sara and I discuss in the book a conversation that I had in the tennis army stadium where we agonized over whether to be scared of partnering with someone so Gavaskar and came out and eventually went for Gavaskar. Number three would be Dalvik, not because he's from Bangalore. Number four would be Sachin Tendulkar, not because he's from Bombay, which I generally detested. I always lose number five again, as described in the book for a long time, the choice of between my boyhood hero Jiahu Shiraz and my uncle's by the Jazayeri.


But now I think Virat Kohli has a challenge placed to that spot. Number five, number six and seven are very easy. There are two greatest all around us. We know have six and seven. I leave it for the moment, so you have nine, 10, 11. Now, obviously there has to be one. So he's you know, he's our greatest spin bowler ever, arguably America's spin bowler. But he has been nine. So that steadily level one more fast bowler for sure.


And again, I will set aside my partisanship in favor of Karnataka, which will want to see that all historias nostalgic I which will want me to put Amarasinghe to here because left office good in all conditions.


Now, number 11, if you're at home, it would have to be one mosquito. And I think it would have to be now because we didn't.


I mean, we have markets which can be very, very was a it must be that it can be busy because you have to market it can be difficult because we have to respond to it has to be lost.


And I know the court is extraordinary, but he hasn't really proved himself in Test matches, brought in the person I did, for example, in Australia or in West Indies or in New Zealand also.


So that means somebody I've lived somebody for the last because maybe my most controversial choice before I come to number eight, so personal as attachment to complement Gumley and market, if we are big in the subcontinent, if they're playing overseas in South Africa or studio, then we may need a third fibular instead of the third spinner. And I take good care of those I mentioned. See that you would have I'm going to say because I'm not saying what a fabulous bowler you usually admired by Wally Hammond and Larry Constantine, two of his greatest contemporaries.


And I think that tells you how remarkable fuller he was in both what this is back and by all accounts, a fabulous fielder. No, no wicketkeeper. No. Here is, I think what I would be controversial and leave myself open to the charge of being partisan in favour of someone from my hometown for a test site, not for they decide for a test site would have to be given. Because, first of all, Tony, again, as a batsman, there's actually little difference between them.


And it was a great fighter down the order. He never fought overseas. And that's because he has ordered people particularly to speed bowling and to make the catches he took off or the way he kept to keep the community. Certainly want to the to my most controversial choice. So to repeat D11 in batting order. That is good. Stela Dalvik Tendulkar. Actually, my third couple did get the money, Gumley, but I'm not Enzyte. Yep, a fantastic 11, and I'll quickly read out my window, I won't explain it, but just read out my love because listeners will no doubt be interested in the first six are actually in common with you.


Gavaskar save out of it, Koelie. I have cleared for Tendulkar at five, monkhood at six. Then Tony Copple and I have picked Ashwin and Gumley and the 11th is more on the basis of what I think will transpire. And it's a bit of a we are talking of an ongoing career which is unpicking Bonura to a company. Yes, a couple with the new ball.


I like to imagine that it might be my 11 and maybe I had a vacancy. I had the second passport to be with captain. And I mean, I've been away very likely more likely to get to my level, actually. Yeah.


You know, I mean, you're picking personnel over Ashwin and say, my picking. You know, someone like Collierville Vishwanath is reminding me of what you've written in your book about the two chauvinism, nationalism and the resistance and of nationalism. Of course, I'd like to discuss in length with you later on in the episode.


Yeah, but I think I mean, you're picking Dony over Germany is much more the question of generation than colleges. College. Great. You know, there's a story I said in an earlier book. I think it's in the spirit of the title of a match I was watching in about 2001, which was some eight or nine years after his last Test match. It was a genius, obviously. You know, one day that I saw between India and England, Mr Cafcass, on the left side of, I think my getting and next to me there was a pounding on the side.


Just I never see the matter. You said, well, you would never have dropped that. That was the first thing that you said addressing. What if they came back even today, I knew better than you, which was completely I'd read about it was a fine cricketer disaggregating, battling the order. But that's what it was. I mean, that kind of emotions for his wicketkeeping and not just here. I'm not just here, but it was a fabulous, fabulous keepa.


You know, if you're not feeling like, you know, you never know what kind of keeper he was. Fair enough.


I mean, also the availability heuristic as work. One has seen only recently, though, for the last two years. And whatever I've written, I've been extremely critical of him because I think he's been a liability to the side in the shorter forms of the game. Over Stewart is welcome. And of course, his conflicts of interest were just, I think, unfortunately, utterly unpardonable. And the other sort of interesting point that comes here is that, you know, both of us have chosen we know one could and I remember sharing this team of mine with a friend and my friend just, you know, sent me a couple of links.


One was to be no one could record. The other was to public records record. And obviously on paper, Unrigged has a better stats. And it tells you that, you know, there is so much the stats don't reveal all the years that monkhood missed because of the war and all of that and how some of his performances came when he was like forty two, you know, when he played his last Test match and all of that. So I think, you know, cricket tragics might have a slightly different view of the world.


Let's kind of move on to you know what, one of the things that delighted me about the Commonwealth of cricket is that it is more in a sense about the Commonwealth of Ram Guha. I mean, it's essentially an autobiography of a very deep and abiding love for the game. So I have sort of, you know, and I want to go through, you know, all of that, your childhood, your youth playing and stuff and all of that.


But before that, a broader question, which is and I'll explain why I asked this and the question itself is this, that would you have been a different person if cricket had not existed?


And you know, the reason I ask this is that it seems to me and there's a dual question in this and another larger question about this cricket in particular that I've been thinking recently about how the form of what we do, whether it is the kind of writing that we do or the kind of podcast we do or whatever that shapes our work and then our work shapes our personality and therefore the forms that we engage with shapes of people that we become in a similar sense.


It seems to me that No. One, the form of cricket is ideally suited for a time where there isn't much opportunity cost or time because there aren't so many forms of entertainment competing with cricket. Correct? Cricket is what there is. And then that whole sort of immersive act of watching something day in, day out, looking deep into something, you know, and cricket, like you said, that time allows you to notice all these subtleties, especially subtleties of character to express themselves, which obviously will then also impress themselves on the fans of cricket.


So what do you think that your love for cricket and in fact all of cricket people of our generation will love cricket to some extent are shaped by the way the game is and that in the. Modern day, you know, things have changed because people have very fragmented interests and, you know, that sort of patience for the longer form just isn't.


Absolutely right. And it is a very important question. And let me reflect on it and answer it as slowly, as carefully as I can. But to begin with, a minor disagreement, I think is a minor disagreement. I see this book not as an autobiography, but as a memoir. Because it's much more of what I what I've seen and observed than what I played or achieved. Right. So it's a fine distinction. Maybe it's said, you know, it is hairsplitting, petty, pedantic distinction.


But I see this more as a memoir, including my mother. Anyway, that's it. Because she's an automatic reader is more an autobiography because you pretty much get to be able to read. And it describes the matches and his innings and especially much. But that's that's a cabinet. So we let that say no. I think one of the things I don't really talk about much in this book. Israeli. Right, I mentioned it briefly, but I grew up at a time well before you I mean, you were you came of cricketing maturity before the smartphone, but the television was already probably part of your life when you were a little boy.


Right. But I was the first cricket match. I was naive on television was when I was 20 and it was not very dangerous. But in Pakistan it was I told Pakistan in 77, 78, it was telecast 78, the winter of 78, which was telecast. So I never had like television my drawing room growing up. I had the radio and the radio meant you have to imagine. I mean, I get the sense of imagination and creativity that the radio fosters, particularly when communicating by high quality commentators like John the Tony Bureau.


And whatever video Lindsay has it you have to imagine.


Just look at the feeling, the ball, the setting, the crowd, you know, and so on and so forth. So I think it's that kind of imagination. And, of course, it's a long duration. You get up at five thirty match in Australia and the lunch break, your lunch break, which is the end of play for them. So I think that's certainly why it's going to be leisurely and just was struck by the fact that there wasn't even a television, it was video.


And of course, they weren't competing interests, but there was no television. There was no smartphone. You could just indulge it all the time. You can, of course, read about it to be able to discuss it. But in my case, I would be many cricket lovers like me. So if you take someone who is an executive, almost executive, you might very wonderful right on the game who both of us admire and a wonderful writer and many other things as well.


Location, location, I think was born is a little a few months older than me. But we were going to Stephen's College the same year. We graduated from high school in the same year. And actually we first became friends listening because I had built a few transistors in the hostel because it was a discolor and the Wintersun when you could sit out of the blue skies, no pollution. And I went with my transistor into the quadrangle listening to the Australia CDs of seventy seven seventy eight when he was captured.


Hundreds of celebrity pictures Patika and joins me sitting on the lawn and check the many differences. I mean his sense of style ultimately I think of equally is I think the best word for word. The best writer in English didn't get it. All right. However, why is an important difference between those absolute obsessions and mine, which is that Michael never played except in the he did not play for the school aged, no previous college. But what that meant was that, of course, I was much more consumed by the game than before.


But I also at the sides of my personality, wondering whether maybe if Michael had been as good a cricketer as I was good enough to play for the college, then he would have had the kind of refined, talkative sensibility that I really liked because he was very different than it was. I got criticised. So in some ways, and now that I compare myself to my son Kashua, whom you also know, and it was also a tragic loss of tragic I mean, his by the of twenty had that much more than ever because again, he wasn't really a competitive figure.


So they also lost to that kind of aggression. I don't regret it, but both. The time, the available technology, the lack of distractions such as television and smartphone, the greater opportunity to develop an interest in a more leisurely, drawn out way for broadband, but also the fact that I was playing cricket and was consumed by making it as a cricketer as well, that I think account for the passion, the intensity with which I have lived this game.


So tell me about your childhood. I mean, you know, one of the figures I've found it very interesting to read about was your uncle. Your mama, which took the rice for me, who used to play cricket for India usually had it not been for the fact that he had one bad, but because of something that happened in childhood. So tell me about how that love for cricket comes. And was your playing cricket partly in a sense also influenced by having a role model like him in the family who was such an outstanding cricketer and, you know, obviously wanted you to do well as well?


Very, very much. Very much so. I mean, as again, I talk about the book, the relationship between one's mama is particularly close. In this case. He was devoted to my mother as well. He had no children of his own. I became the object of his affection and his unfulfilled ambitions, and he poured all that out to me. Now, of course, my father, which I also related in the book that my father picked up together in the room when he was growing up in Bangalore, my father had the good fortune of working the same land as the father of the great Benjamin, who's not forgotten now, tragically, who should have paid for the magnificent attacking batsman who played for Bengal and for Mysore and for the rest in the Pentangle.


And you know what's truly one of America's great pioneering cricketers? Well before Vishwanath and David and so on. So my father knew Frank Frags gifted in my back, but they were already in the house.


In my own little house with my father, we played, you know, on the lawn and my uncle, as I read my book, came on a busy summer break with my father, the outside edge followed by googly and beat my father as you went to dive ball to the gate. I have no recollection. But nevertheless, two hands on two legs. You can make it a googly at the age of five or six. I would to speak again.


So yes, I know, but I was certainly a great hero of my finger. And in many ways this book is a tribute to him, to our long standing relationship, including the occasional disagreement which I talk about in the book.


And, you know, I never showed it to him. So some of the facts about growing up are actually wrong. I mean, one fact he pointed out to me was about the right course for the youngsters now, for the youngsters with the club, which he founded in the rule. And one of the relationships described in the making of the club was between my uncle, the son of the senior scientist in the research institute and a son of a European grandfather who was an Olympic footballer, about to be an outstanding cricketer.


But I read the book, told me an error. He said sporting youngster was not founded by me. It was founded by my older brother. So it was a five mammas that is in between. Thiong'o was older. And I've kind of forgotten that because Kangal, thanks for the youngsters, left it to his younger brother to run and went on to become an engineer in Germany and probably I think started following Biagio after that. So but I did want to show this book.


So in the book, a couple of facts. Now I will kick myself that I should also honour my other mother as well is no longer alive. But as the founder, you know, it's like writing about the intellectual congressionally about Gandhi and not mentioning that I know that kind of thing. So I feel a bit sad about that. But that is inevitable because I didn't want to break the law and my prayer was that he would live long enough for me to present him my first copy, which I did.


And he's been complaining ever since. Think there's too much about me and not enough about other people, including my brother who founded it.


And it's interesting you should mention sort of this, because one of the sort of questions that I had was, you know, about the nature of memory itself. Like, you know, when I read about you being a late breaking liebeler, instantly my memory went back to my childhood when I tried to learn like break and googly when I was in school, whether from where was this?


This wasn't. And so I have no storied history. I didn't even play for my school and like you. But I remember, you know, how I learnt it. I learned it from this book by this great English scold at school, and he'd written a book on coaching. And there were diagrams in that. And my memory of that suddenly was so sharp, whereas cricket wasn't even very that important to me. It's just that this was an early memory, which was sharp.


And one of the things I've noticed in your book is that there are so many incredibly sharp, embellished moments. You know, for example, I was struck by this early line in your book where you said, quote, I have no memories of the first cricket match I saw yet. I have heard so much about it since that I can write about it as if I did. And then you describe it in great detail and in other places, you know, you the first time you met someone who really, you know, in the early 70s would go into the hotel to get money to us for a ticket, get money.


Wasn't there? Mr Pataudi was having breakfast. You are steam. You said it is going to the room you left, but you remembered that he was having a fried eggs sunny side up. And, you know, you've got all these little details, like when you were playing for the road, when there was a team from said unpowered, which had come. And you threw in this delicious detail, which, you know, the kind of thing I love in writing that you say that said, don't put it better leaches in there.


And that's it. And elsewhere you speak about, you know, Lloyd, a smashing person and you write caught the ball, tries to flemyng out over the top of the stocks of glass, blowing their heads crushed as a missile. Spatt from the Giants remoteness to the boundary. Stockwood And these are, of course, the days before television. And you have sort of you saw this life on the ground. I think I could see it fact in my memory.


I don't deplete the book. The stocks of grass were crushed and the power of the balls taking them was so intense, like when you met some lightning strikes, there were some tiny flames. And that's kind of hyperbole I didn't put in the book I read was a large back, but they were just marvellous. So what is a good memory like?


Are these memories so sharp because it was cricket and you were so obsessed with it and loved it? Or was it also a question of that, you know, about memory? This they say that one remembers the extremes as one grows older. You remember what just happened and you remembered your early youth and the middle begins to fade.


No, it is. It is. I mean, the other things that I don't talk about in this book, memories of example, there was an innings which I can describe you now because it's not in the book because there was too much of what my club already in the book. Right now this is a machin about nineteen probably. Eighty five or six, all right, maybe eighty seven, because obviously in America, eighty seven, so that's a role for my club.


Those in Gaza had stopped playing for eight or nine years and my club was about to be relegated. He came back. Well, this might just save my club taking the first division and we'll be discussing what a great and sturdy man I talk about trying getting money from lobbyists this year by speaking at the center function and so on. And they had a wonderful fastball, although no later tragically died in a plane accident. Randy Calvin, who played for Canada and possibly all of them.


Marvelous. And so that came back and he just gave a little bit. He didn't even practice. He took somebody back. He came for this match and we were fine down don't to draw them as they were to us to play. And it was a genius of stadium where occasionally actually a league match was held in those days. And I went to watch I came back to the original science. I had my troubles and trouble. I went said to the dressing room.


So that went down to a forty five and you played for two us. And I remember the 40 year old wanted to remind them of who he was. I mean, he played two times over these young terrorists, which I can still see as I was watching the pavilion on the football. So I this is not that eighty seven to thirty years ago, but inconsequential that. But it's remarkable how the aging veteran who had once almost played for India, who was part of Connecticut winning teams coming to save his club and showing a young toughness.


Let's not so this is a kind of thing because it's cricket, because it means so much to me. I can remember incidents, strokes, Gazza's vividly. One more memory, which is not in this book, again, which I'll tell you is about the World Cup match of nineteen ninety nine, India versus Pakistan in Manchester. I wish I was like I would have described it in a foreign field, but I don't describe this particular incident. I was batting beautifully, was taking them away from us.


I think we had two hundred and ninety one law school regulations. I had got two or three wickets. God wanted to see me. We got an edge and as a lunge left the left hand to look at all the other could have taken that right. So this was nineteen ninety nine. About ten or twelve years later I met. My goodness I do. And I said that other countries are on the my by could o'clock because the feet of athleticism that well because I said to watch it lively.


Do you remember these things on television. Do you work with them. No.


I know exactly what you mean because I have watched a lot of matches live. In fact I think one match where you describe yourself being in the press box, 2005, India versus Pakistan say well played that innings. I was actually in the press box. I don't remember that. But, you know, you mentioned that you inspiration and with it and I think it was in that press box or possibly, you know, a few feet away from me that you had that conversation about your job.


But I was good. OMELCHENKO Yeah. To sort of accommodate SEIBERG So let's go back to sort of the personal narrative now that, you know, you're playing for your childhood, you know, you become passionate about it in school. Meanwhile, your mum has moved away to Bangalore, but you're still playing. And then you decide that you want to go to St. Stephen's and be part of the team there. And this almost seems like it becomes a mini obsession with you for a period of time.


So tell me about that period, like at that point in time, will you? Someone who was thinking that I want to play for India and you know, how how did all of that unravel?


You know, again, this is where one has to be stopped oneself and. Think carefully about what was I thinking at the time? I mean, I was 16, I only wanted to go to St. Stephen's to I only wanted to play cricket.


And again, I don't talk about this book because, again, it's mostly a memoir, autobiography in January, like I was already, already interested in writing, I won the surprise, my school, the school magazines, my favorite teacher, history teacher. The first person got me to sit that this city has left the school because I was in the school in Gladius.


Again, just a bit of a digression, but I know your show encourages digressions, this man with a very interesting man called Arthur Hughes.


He was of the axis of one of the ideas stayed on in India after independence Love Schoolteaching joined the Duke School where he started a magazine he times of wisdom of for editors, two of whom were by said. The third was one of our most outstanding diplomats. Mukhopadhyay and it was a fourth, OK. And I was already disinviting, vaguely disciplined about the use. I graduated in nineteen seventy three in those days, you six months of between school and college, you know, you finished your HSC in December and you joined university in July.


That's six months off. And I got a letter from Arthur Hughes who had left the dos and don'ts in the school and said There's a beautiful I knew anyone who noticed in the school what a fabulous campus it is. Please come and teach for six months. There's a great library. We can talk about history. You can tell your writing skills. So I had this very attractive invitation to develop my literary editorial interest as a 15 year old. And my daughter said, you have to come to Bangalore and play with my club for six months and I don't know what I did the right thing.


I think I did the right thing because I saw I tried to make it all right. So I like to play cricket. And that was so I gave up, in a sense, a very interesting and exciting opportunity for a schoolboy to teach little kids to nurture them in the way you me to talk to my mentor, my mentor, and was a great library that was doing this in the school. So cricket was played since he was a real.


Did I think I would play for India, probably. I thought maybe, you know, I like playing for maybe you, the little people I can beat. But I quickly realized in my first year in college that even that was of.


Yeah. And it's really interesting. I was you know, it almost feels like the who's who your time stiffens because it was not just any call. It said, you know, I was your captain. You mentioned how you know the gentleman that was your match made. And what I was kind of intrigued by was and you had, of course, bolt to mind that I'm not in Georgia and elsewhere. You go out once famously, which was sweet revenge after he told you about the previous match.


And one of the sort of things that struck me about this was that, you know, your college mates also included Bustamante and Chandan Mitra. You've spoken about how once you went to watch a match and besides, you were probably under the Cooroy. You've already spoken about how you and Amitav were good at those of a magazine. Don't know what kind of strikes me while reading all these names and sort of from my own memories, which were much later but from the 80s, is that people who made something of themselves in India, by and large, tended to be from a small group of elites who all kind of knew each other.


And it was that kind of circle. And it's almost as if there's a similar thing in cricket. But you're living through a time that you sort of describe a transition of that. Also, you talk about Sonnett Club and how you don't own a club just came up so suddenly. In fact, Lamba was from such a club, as you mentioned. So tell me a little bit about that, because, I mean, how did that change gradually, not just within cricket, but within society?


Well, absolutely. I mean, what that captures is a very narrow elite before that time. I mean, there was a very nice piece in Mint about my book by Andrado that they mentioned is that, you know, I was I bowled as a schoolboy to Tom Walter, but I was in college. I used to live with Cranbury and I was surprised to learn that I would get in bed. He was because he was the first female cop. So he was already known when he gave me a lift to the Moody Cricket Ground and Stephen's College.


But the narrow base of the elite and it was narrow, for example. But already 50 percent of the officers came from the editors of English language newspapers cable.


That was going to say that has been good and it is damn good. There's been a deepening of the Indian middle class in this kind of catchment area, the diversity of places people come from and of course, a deepening of the catchment area of Indian cricket itself. And again, competing Bombay in nineteen seventy four partly paved the way for that in Bollywood. I mean I think there are some. I mean. No one obviously deplores the manner in which gunmen are allowed to express his her criticisms.


There is some truth to that. I believe it is also a crowd of enough people, the same families promoting their own people, the whole project. And so that statement was completely elitist. It is not elitist by our people, not elitist in Glasgow, sometimes thoughtful of rich people or elitist in favoring those who are fluent in English.


So come on of English was a marker of success in St. Stephen's and then became a marker of our success in the foreign service and the bureaucracy, in journalism, in the corporate world and so on. And fortunately, that has changed. And I think that there's a lot to do with Mundulla market deepening of the cost basis of the Indian elite and the market where, you know, privilege and entitlement is rewarded, not only rewarded in the Congress party, you know, a very, very outside the Congress party, which is good, which is our democracy is a function.


You know, one could actually trace the arc of your admiration and contempt and just go from one country to another. Gandhi It kind of strikes me like that. You just said something interesting. And I want to take a digression and sort of mention that a bit, because my next question was going to be about your cricket writing in any case. And the progression is really, you know, that when I was sort of teaching online writing course and there I sometimes speak about how the way that Indians speak English is shaped slightly because of this post-colonial baggage, that English has been a marker of class.


And therefore we always want to signal of sophistication by showing how good we are with English, what kind of fancy words we can use and all of that. So, one, what are your thoughts on that? And do you mean to sort of you know, you talk about your taste in cricket writing, you know, sort of shifting from Gado, Cynthia Thompson, and you obviously discovered goddess's writing through Thompson, as you point out, from Robinson and Jack Fingleton, which you know exactly.


But it was my taste as well. So, you know, how did that sort of a aesthetic shift come about and how did the audience evolve? And when you began to see yourself as a writer, who were the sort of writers you looked up to and when you wrote about cricket, you know, who were your models in a sense?


You know, first of all, do not country. But complicating what I said about command over English being an easy entry into the Indian ruling class, which is no longer and happening no longer is. At the same time, I like to say that if you write in one language, you should do it well and elegantly and accessibly at this time.


So please don't tell me that it is not. I mean, you may communicate it to a certain audience, but at a level of English, give me because I'm saying that every day ascetics that fact. So that way I still get a great deal of skill by Skype. If I don't into my models would not be, you know, the quality that you see on television. But I really like whether that might be right or likewise in Bangalore. So I have the highest technical standards when it comes to music.


When it comes to cricket, you know, I don't believe in dumbing down for the sake of satisfying political correctness. Why did I move from kadence Thompson to Robinson? And Fingleton is principally because Fingleton and Robinson understood the game because they played.


But as Curtis and Thompson were just Objet guys.


I mean, I just played a little bit of cricket, which he talks about primarily in his autobiography, because I stayed in a school.


But I think the best writers, the best writer in question is Gideon Haigh, because he understands the game, but he also understands time. You know, he has with a deep sense of history and even forgotten later on became a professional journalist. But he also made his living as a wordsmith, writing about us in politics. So let's not disparage fingerprints. Well, of course, it wasn't his lyrical, effusive and sentimental elegiac as I stumble across, but it was good enough.


For the opposite end and yet a masterly command over the techniques, the laws, the idioms and history of the game, as a person who had played with Bradman and Bill O'Reilly and Roberta Hammer and all the rest.


So in a sense, you are right to have to evolve their own style. So I don't think I've drawn in all these influences. So I think probably the structure of these is modelled on some of the items on English counties, but it's also in the idiom it has history thrown in. It has been stories of. I think it's also important not to. How do I put it this way? What I wrote a column for, which came much later and which is a very different kind of book that the other the only year in my adult life when I did not read beyond them because I did not want to be influenced by in any way, in any way remotely influenced by because you cannot this is the best book ever, possibly the best sports anyone should not have imitated.


You know, she's made a mistake in this book. Talk to time to get beyond the boundary for India. You know what kind of culture I said that. I just thought of straightforward stuff you see in my book based on India material. I did.


But I you know, I was very lucky in having a father who encouraged reading and pottery books. He would go to Delhi and get me books. So Students College had a superb library of great books. That's what I discovered beyond the boundary. They had four or five books by a single girl. They had one mission was the wonderful English stylish. That's what you talk about. Seven books, hardball with the name written in gold at the college level.


And I would say and I would often go on the first floor of our college library. I don't think I use the library very much. I didn't read the economics textbooks until I did submissively in my economics exams, but I don't think a lot of those books, maybe that's why they play for India. I really do. So I think I was fortunate in having my daughter had very little, but my father, recognizing my interest in picking what books a neighbor as I it in my book, rather than give you my first wisdom when I was seven.


So that gave me a sense of the larger world of cricket beyond India. I would guess sport in pastime is a fairly decent magazine of that time. But often wrote and my colleagues had this wonderful library. And so yes, I mean, I read a great deal of cricket and even now, occasionally I return to it some of my favorite writers when I can't sleep at night, you know.


No, I agree with everything you said. And I, you know, mentioned, you know what I tell my writing students about English being a market of glass and all that. But what I am expressing disapproval of is, you know, using flamboyant and fancy phrases for their own sake. You know, the kind of old British pomposity that I left with us instead of saying stop something, we'll put an end to something, that kind of thing. And, you know, my admiration for Fingleton is perhaps equal to yours.


In fact, the way I look at my thesis, I talk to a lot of like I love reading carders for the beauty of the prose. But very often I think the style of Williams a substance. And I wonder how much the pressure sometimes might be on cricket writers to make every moment memorable, which they are writing about, which I think would have been a temptation that God has perhaps given more to than Fingleton and obviously I before because he didn't like it as well.


But I won't elaborate on that because poor children may be listening and feel bad. But one interesting thing that struck me was that you mentioned this recurring dream you once had, that you go to a sort of a railway station bookstore and you find the first edition of goddess's autobiography, which you read many times, but you've never seen the first edition. And tell me a little bit about that dream that's so fascinating.


Yeah, I this to do with the anglicised Indian middle class of that time. I mean, I don't tend to tell the whole story in my book, but I should elaborate a little bit sociologically and for you and your listeners. So I studied in Stephen's college much later. Much later, my story goes back to when I was nine or 10. I was hoping to 11. I was hoping to study Stephen's College, which was the pinnacle of English language education in India.


We do apologise to the Bombay presidency. I got no apologies to peasants in Calcutta, Bombay. However, I did. Uncle has studied at Oxford for many, but I would never go to go to Oxford. But my uncles father my had a first cousin who was much older than me with my first cousin, who was born in nineteen thirty four to twenty five years older than me. My father's elder sister son had studied at Oxford. My father's brother in law was much better off than my father so he could send me some books.


But he obviously only 10 because has given. But I studied Oxford, which means he was at least one or two just above me. So I was much older. I was nervous. I was fearful. When I went to stay with my aunt in Delhi, I saw the book, but I didn't dare ask my cousin, who was twenty four years older than me. He was thirty five when I was eleven. Can I borrow that? It was always forbidden fruit because it was in my uncle's bedroom.


I thought, that's fine, but I never took it out. I was too nervous and scared to ask my cousin to let me let me a relative who just whippersnapper talking about.


Any wonder these guys so I think that's why that inaccessibility of the childhood inaccessibility to me of the autobiography of the greatest secrets out of a time remained imprinted in my mind. And which is why I had that dream in my teens, in my 20s and into my. Of getting that book and navigating, that's that's stunning. And if one of my listeners can locate a first edition of that book by Carter's You-Know-Who to send it to you, let's move on now.


And, you know, you've described your sort of your years and Stephan's in this very succinct paragraph, which are good, good for five years and since DiFonzo for cricket. And had it been asked of me, I might have died for cricket as well. Never before and never since have I poured as much passion and energy into anything good. And of course, you describe it in great detail in your book, an absolutely enthralling detail, because playing for steepens, it seems, was an enormously big deal.


It's not just being played in college. I mean, half those people were like first class cricketers and it's a lot of names. But then you point out about how you went off to do a PhD in sociology with a Marxist teacher convinced you that cricket was a bushwas deviation and you gave all your treasured books away. Tell me about that phase of your life and how easy was it to just turn your back on something that you were so incredibly passionate about?


Yeah. So, yeah, it was I mean, I was just convinced and I had a friend in Calcutta who doesn't think I in that book, whom you would know of but enjoyable a person of decency, character and integrity. One of the few people who has been an Indian journalist for 40 years and retain that character and integrity and decency. And I was I mean, that can be very good in all things. And he introduced me to jazz and to the pleasures of Smoking Gun as well.


So I only got my first article published in the business center, not on to it, but what I want to do.


I was convinced I have to give away my cricket library and this kind of indulgence and arrested after by works of scholarship, Lifespring scholarship to the place that place on the shelf that can be vacated by my disposal. But I didn't want to sell it because don't believe in profit. But I worked at a smart enough of. We want to buy it, so did the writings of. In The Telegraph, which Perenjori what of a young mother? Patricia was a good writer at that time and I got to talk to this young man.


Would you be interested in my library? And I went to see my dad and he said, what you have said? I said, plus traditional between Wicket's Pellom on a book on lords inspired by pop and popcorn and how much you want for it. So I said nothing. Just the cost of cutting it from there with my father would be seven and release. So he got all that was 50 degrees.


And this is the hilarious thing that shortly afterwards would I give up ready to go get my stuff, you know, so I could build it brick by brick, which I almost have that. I mean, of course, I still don't have karass autobiography, but I have almost all the books I then had except for Bellemont as Bacolod. So I got it out of it. And, you know, he's a lovely fellow and I wish he would write Montrachet.


I'm he's got a good library, a good museum of Things and cricket now. But that's the story of that. I had to give it away, but I did want to make a profit. And you know that it was the beneficiary, I think a bloody beneficiary of my gift.


Not this so much delicious irony in that that, you know, a newly formed Marxist would, you know, give away all his cricket books to someone who that goes immediately becomes a stockbroker. So well are doing that. Tell me about those years and how you eventually got back to cricket like you describe a very interesting story. Well, I think it in the US and to pass the time you're kind of bowling, you're reviving your skills. It's been bowling against a wall in your apartment.


And the person who lives below complains that, you know, he'd still be my wife and all that. So you stop that and you start taking notes for the book, which eventually becomes wickets in the east. So, you know, sort of your newfound love for cricket also have something to do with now go hand in hand with writing as well. Yeah.


So, again, you know, one of the issues about writing this book was it's mostly you did a few stories that have been detailed. But many stories are told before, which I didn't tell you because I didn't. And one of them was actually rediscovered ticket originally when I was in Delhi, nineteen eighty three, eighty four, and started betting on my boy who wrote the first book. And I saw him going one hundred. And that then slowly came back.


Then I went to America. I was lonely, as I describe in Commonwealth of cricket. I was watching baseball but it was deeply dissatisfying, the second best to the most sophisticated game known to humankind. And it was called and it was for four feet of snow outside and it was really heated inside the house. And I started pulling on bricks. And then I started my my friend from below, who was now a very distinguished professor of Buddhist studies at Duke University College, said they said, you're disturbing my life.


And then I started writing. But that's really how it happened. And this is a story I don't tell you because there's only so much you can tell without the ending and digressing too much and destroying what is really rude because to the East as a series of eight newspaper articles in different states, so Connecticut and Bombay, cricket, et cetera, et cetera, I've already started writing for the press of other subjects.


I took those eight stories to an editor I knew who had published my articles on forestry and ecology, and he said. Our sports desk will not allow a freelancer to write articles for us, so the grand daughter of sports journalist, I have to get to them. The reason I became a writer of books, because I think articles published in the press, I showed them to my editor who had just published my first book on quite something, called me.


And he said there's a book deal so that there's a book on this. And he told me how to elaborate my arguments and stitch together a narrative of some kind of and that's how it begins, because otherwise it may have if he hadn't had an insecure and nervous and competitive and diverse sports desk in the Times of India and the rest have disappeared there and died.


Yeah. So let's kind of take a quick commercial break now and come back to talk more about your fascinating journey. And I have a bunch of larger questions to ask you and also a disagreement there. So that should be fun. So let's leave that for after the break.


As many of you know, I'll soon be coming out with the fourth volume anthology of the scene on the unseen books organized around the themes of politics, history, economics and society and culture. These days, I'm reading two or three million words of conversation from all my episodes so far to curate the best bits. And for this to happen, I needed transcripts. And that was made possible by a remarkable young startup called Chief. That chief attack chief dot com is a digital platform that allows companies to outsource work to the network of freelancers and tech chiefs.


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Welcome back to the CNN, The Unseen, I'm chatting with Ram Guha about his incredible new book, his enjoyable new book, The Commonwealth of Cricket, which I think all cricket lovers of whatever age in India will agree that, you know, when we went into the break, you were talking about your writing wickets in the East, which is such a delightful, charming, romantic book and one of your early books that I really enjoyed. And, you know, I was struck with something that you've written in this book, The Commonwealth of Cricket, which is about how, you know, one's adoration and admiration and impression of cricketers can pass through the generations.


And, you know, you describe at one point in the book about how you were sitting with the rats in the leopard and telling him about how you were writing about the poloncarz. And at this point, he said, and I quote from your book, quote, When I heard that I was writing a social history of cricket, those heroes were the brothers Spelunker Baalu in parliament cowritten. He said, his father also in Istanbul, princely patron of cricket.


I told him that whittal was as good a batsman as Wichai Hazari. I was delighted to hear this since Badoo and Vitol had retired before testing Ranji Trophy with cricket began and went out totally forgotten. D.G Vallenato had insisted to me that Hazari was as good as when I was good. And I was now telling my son Kishwar that Gavaskar was as good as Sachin Tendulkar. And I'm sure you know, and even younger than maybe Kishwar will one day tell people that he actually is as good as the Tendulkar.


So you know what? What also kind of strikes me when I read this is how much of our memories of cricket, our collective memories, in a sense, because, you know, what is passed on to us also becomes a part of our imagination and our sort of constructed memory also, in a sense, how so much of it really depends on these spoken word mythologies, almost. You know, and you know, your earlier mentioned how Wally Hammond was an admirer of Amarasinghe and all the things we've heard about Amarasinghe.


And I was sort of reminded of Hammond's flamboyant quote about how, you know, when the ball came off the pitch and I'm watching Ball, it was like the overcoming of the crack of doom, which sounds to me like a very Cartesian thing to say in its sort of flamboyance. So what do you feel about that? And do you feel that in this modern age where every image is documented forever on YouTube and there's almost too much of a sensory bombardment happening of our senses, that some of this is kind of lost?


And what is it we don't feel? On one hand, there is a danger of over romanticizing of past age. But on the other hand, I think you know that there is so much to that as well. And you and I, of course, would be partial to forming our notions of cricket that way because that's how we grew up. Yeah, I think it's I think although I wish there was footage of market bullying and the Hazari and much in betting, the fact that there's so much footage of Tendulkar biting, I think he's a wonder and a joy, not just for you and me, but for generations yet unborn, you know, because however great Kohli's, he did not face an audience that was Michael Stark is not.


Let's be clear about this. So I think we don't agree to this witness, not just because of this folksy place, but because of the bullying he played against. I mean, all Liebeler today. I mean, the only world cricketers today that is slightly past the Hill who is comparable to Dollard and unlaced advisee Makram and Glenn McGrath. Is Anderson on a moving track. So I'm grateful for what we have. You know, we're going to tell you what a sublimely great player he was said.


And I was tell you that Gibson said the other day, you know, you always complain about my love for Connecticut cricket, but there's only one chapter in this book devoted to a significant and that's a Bombeck, Sachin Tendulkar. Right.


So because there was something about how he played well, he played and the character of his play that makes him sublime. And I'm glad we have that. And, you know, I wish we had the same things for me. A little bit of Gavaskar, less Vishwanath, virtually nothing of Hasadi. I don't regard anybody, let alone the bull market, as much as the competition. I can be sure there's a bit and I saw so much of him that I know how great he was.


So I think probably we are lucky that we have all this to make more recent comparisons across generations as we go further down the road and just thinking aloud, I'm kind of struck by another sort of trade off of the changing times.


One is, as you've pointed out, you know, the Indian athletes earlier were drawn from a small pool of, you know, English speaking people who were educated in a small set of places. So your ecosystem is smaller, your pool of places is smaller, which is why you had these dominant regional teams in Bombay, Delhi, Mysore, which later became Karnataka, and you had these sort of dominant, but otherwise it was really nothing. No, a couple of things have happened in modern times, it seems to me, to go in opposite directions.


One is a pool has widened enormously. And and you would imagine because of excess and because of, you know, of just more points of entry to the game, including the IPL, which we can talk about later. But the pool has widened enormously, which it would seem to me then increases the chances for a better and better players coming coming up, and would almost demand that the current generation be much better than the past generation, which, as we see, is not quite the case, really.


As you as you pointed out. And you know, it's that same logic where you point out about Hossaini not was passionate about the local game in Connecticut when he said that he managed to from my from my socity, he managed to break into the Connecticut team because, you know, Djihad Vishwanath with the selector happened to go down and watch a match and better players and him didn't make the cut. And Srinath later said that if he gets involved in Connecticut cricket as he is, then one hundred and Woolcott's will emerge or something to that effect.


So there is one that the ecosystem is widening. There's a far greater pool of players. So you should have more talent coming up. But the flipside of the aspect is that even though you have a greater pool, you also have greater options of things that you can do with your team. Not everybody may want to play cricket, and so many options have opened up for people to sort of pursue that. They just might be less people interested in kind of, you know, going that far and showing you not devoting themselves in the obsessive way that you have to devote yourself to anything.


If you want to achieve excellence. What are sort of your thoughts on these?


You know, I think an. What you refer to as the fragmented nature of time. I think. It's going to affect the further future development and flourishing of professions that demand 12 hours a day for 10 years when you are growing up, classical music, for example, you know, are we going to get the kind of Indian classical vocalists that we did 20 or 30 years ago? We'll ask ourselves, is it going to produce in the 21st century?


Art, maybe literature, philosophy. But I think the rewards are enormous on making you do an IPO 18 days, a profusion and a mushrooming of academies trying to train the next IPO and start to replicate will be lucky.


And also because also because it happens to be the only sport in which Indians are good with the sponsorship, the infrastructure, the support of different kinds, including popular public support interests. I think what you're putting to limit that to perfect a craft, to become proficient at a craft where you need to spend between 15 or 20 years as a young child devoted to it will affect things like classical music, thinking we just said.


But I think that's that that's a profound point. And speaking of this sort of fragmentation of attention and interest, another thing that strikes me is there's a vivid memory I have from my college days where I used to play chess in those days and I was going for a junior tournament in some town in Maharashtra from Puno that I was then studying. And I remember boarding a bus with one of my teammates. And there were all kinds of people in the in the crowd crowded city bus.


And as you would think that we have nothing in common at all. But then someone puts on a transistor radio and there's a commentary of a cricket match coming through. And that's a moment of magic where suddenly everybody on the bus is on the same side. We are all together. We are all sort of united by that common passion, as indeed you and I are right now while we are speaking about it. And it strikes me that, you know, and I just wondered at what would unite us in a similar way on an empty bus today.


What was that match? I've actually forgotten. I just remembered something. What year was it?


It must have been since I was in college, maybe early 90s and felt so well into the Tendulkar might have been possible.


So it might have been getting the Skalkaho or whatever. One of those things I don't even remember, but well into the age of television.


But there's no TV on in history books. And my sort of what I'm just again, thinking a lot about is that is it you know, in a sense you could say cricket and the passion for cinema, which is, of course, Bollywood for the Hindi speaking part of India, would sort of be a common factor. But today, when we have so many fragmented, diverse passions all over the place and diverse interests and everybody's in that city, buses probably lost in the smartphone.


What, what, what, what, what unites us?


And I that's a very, very perceptive observation. I think virtually nothing, you know, maybe something as ordinary and superficial as singing the national anthem or something. Very. Smokler Someone starts singing and you have to kind of join in because you feel afraid that you'll be regarded as an intellectual or something. I mean, these are things that I'm cricket. I remember when the World Cup was played in India last year, 2011.


We had a large screen on immediately and people were to go to school, just congregate there and watch, so kind of a big space where you could just do that kind of stuff. And of course, our regime now does not like open public spaces, even at the Supreme Court. Must be designated and defined.


I mean, so I don't know where this kind of collective spirit of enjoyment of music, of cricket, where we'll have it.


Yeah, no, of course, I mean, the the flip side, which I'd also like to acknowledge and point out in case I sound like a hopeless Luddite who is just bemoaning all of this, is that we can form communities online and, you know, we might have a niche interest and never meet someone physically who shares their interests. But online, we can form those communities and you and I can have this conversation. But the other flipside of that is that then a lot of our lives are lived in the abstract online world and not into concrete physical world, which I think has a variety of effects, one of which is making our discourse much more toxic because people behave in ways which they would never behave if they were with you in the flesh and blood.


Let's also sort of now, you know, move on from there to talk about something that you discuss towards the end of the book and which is endlessly fascinating to me is this bizarre moment where a cricket tragic is suddenly asked to take over the administration of the game. And I think you mentioned in your book about how shocked various people were at this, including, I think Gideon Haigh, who's, you know, been on the show long ago saying, like, what the hell is with the world?


You know, it's almost like a 20/20 kind of bizarre thing that I'm taking over cricket administration. So tell me a bit about that and tell me, you know, your apprehensions and motivations going into that.


So, I mean, firstly, I was wonderful. I was part of a committee of administrators chaired by. Right. So I was ambivalent. I consulted a few people, all except one said I should join. They said, you know, you love the game so much it is mucky and dirty. And this Atlassian an attempt to give it up. You owe it to yourself, you to cricket, you owe it to us. A lot of people in Karnataka who worried about the way the game was being run into the ground by the Connecticut State Association also asked me to join and I, maybe naively and out of vanity, succumbed to that kind of thing, you know, and I said, I'm glad it gave me an unusual insight into what was going on.


And of course, I spectacularly failed. As I describe in my book, I knew it would be very different to anything I'd ever done so well the first day I kept a diary. Normally I don't give a damn. I mean, the other incidents in this book I recollect from memory. It's not like when I watched the 1996 quarterfinal in Bangalore World Cup qualifying for India and Pakistan, I was keeping a diary so that when I was called to be Bombay in 1974, I was keeping a diary.


No, that's those are all recollection from memory with an occasional look at a scorecard. If I felt I had got some particular facts wrong but realized I'm going to keep a diary of what I see, what I observe, the emails I get the tweets about this, and I kept a very detailed on these small excerpts of which I'm used in those chapter. So it was intense for four out of five months of trying to set aside the. And then I decided that this is going nowhere, but I guess I still can get back to you know what I know I am in command of, which is researching and writing historical works.


And, you know, one of the things I sort of keep noticing and writing about and talking about, you know, mostly with reference to government often is that No. One power corrupts you know, that's a cliche, but it's a universal truth. And number two, people respond to incentives like, for example, and I'll ask about your struggles during this period separately and the various causes which you were fighting for. But, you know, one of the anecdotes that you sort of relate from this sort of strikes a chord with, you know, the chairman of the committee, Mr.


Wayne Awdry. He is going to a book launch to launch a book on Tendulkar, and he's sitting beside Tendulkar. And you point out about that, look, if he didn't have this post, he would have been doing none of this and therefore, he should not have been doing this. And in your case, it strikes me that the incentives to make use of the post are much less because you are already such a renowned public figure in another field that any lapse of behaviour or any, you know, swinging from your principles would obviously affect you and what people thought of you and all that.


So, you know, you're very full tried and true to that. But that's not necessarily the case with everyone, which could lead us to the hopeless conclusion that, you know, it's sort of the institutions and the culture which shapes the way people behave. Like one of the points you kind of made while talking about that period is that in that whole conflict of interest saga that you were fighting and that I completely feel entirely as strongly as you, that it's just shocking and it continues.


And that among the people who had a conflict of interest like that was someone of such impeccable character as, you know, one of my heroes growing up, Rahul Dravid himself. And David, to his credit, as you point out, had the grace to eventually, you know, sort it out and no longer has a conflict of interest. But at that time, he did. And he he was like, I'm just, you know, going by the existing rules and blah, blah, blah.


But is that something that over a period of time and as a historian and, you know, we might even have discussed this in one of the previous episodes, you know, people are ultimately, in a sense, creatures of circumstance responding to incentives. Is there therefore a sense of, you know, should we then have like how hard is it then to fight that sense of fatalism that, you know, it's OK, that you can have all these principles and whatever when you're away from it, but when you're actually part of it and a player in the game, how do you respond?


So I rambled a bit, but I you know, I mean, there are two heroes of this book. I mean, the many heroes, but the two principal heroes, one we've talked about. The other is basically. Now, I have the great privilege and honor of knowing both before I joined, so I do do certain things I would try to do, and there were certain things I would absolutely not do. There's a story I leave out of this book, but I can get it now that maybe the book would have seen some self promoting a sensibility in January.


I was appointed this year in February, late in January, maybe, or two weeks afterwards, and there playing or still in a Test match in Bangalore three days before the match. I got a call from. Who was then secretary or maybe the secretary or president of the council here and my welcome mat I talked about already, so whoever called me and said these are the best seats in the case, here are the gears here. Diamond Jubilee Box overlooking the wicket over the side screen.


Muleteers. And you played the whole day with a VIP as you played the whole day with, you know, food and liquor and whatever else you want. And so I said, I've kept to see in the diamond box for you and it and I said, no, thank you very much. And not because of me, but because I didn't want to affect a. I knew I could, but I would not want that. That is the views of the board and his former protege of.


Now, can you come and stay here? So I went into my Mustang. I went and bought a ticket and they from the right now because I had the example of Dorret. I mean, it is incorruptible. We shouldn't be incorruptible. They are the two people I most admire and already most admired and validated well before I joined the queue. So I have to do what they were told they would do. So we took a negative. I did accept payment either after after all of that was done.


So because if you don't, people who set that kind of moral standard, you know, you can never fully achieve it. I don't believe it is more courageous than me. I have no doubt about that. You know, but at least his example or many of the other people in public life outside the gate have been extraordinarily courageous and brave. I mean, for example, one person I should name because I'm sometimes accused of raising dead people is the anthropologist who's also the younger academic than me, but a person of studying courage and integrity and face the traits of certain kinds that I might have.


So if you don't, people in your life. Who had that kind of backbone? You'll be ashamed and you will shame you into a little insignificant instead of not accepting a box in the box. Not a big deal did the book, but this is what I think happened. You know, I think it's a lot of shit. But what you see around, I mean, if. I don't know what sort of language he has seen around him recently to to behave, to behave the way he's doing now, but I think it values of this kind that sometimes they come from within, you know, but at other times they are what you see.


And having people like this and that he has as kind of exemplars, I think will shape has shaped me in certain ways.


No, I mean, in a sense, that kind of underscores the point I was making, because these are outliers to the ambitions, including yourself. But, you know, the undertows book, The Burning Forest I love, these are sort of outliers not. Tell me a little bit about sort of the key battle that you fought while you were part of that formidable member group, which is about conflicts of interest, which is something that I think is a concept that people simply don't understand because they assume that you don't.


Conflict of interest only matters if you are the kind of person who would take advantage of it. Like, you know, God was good at one point saying I'm not the kind of person who would, you know, mess around because I have a conflict of interest. But the bottom line is the existence of a conflict of interest is a problem. And in fact, I would go further and I would say that one would assume that there is a conflict of interest.


It will be misused. Because, you know, I would always go to tell me a little bit about that battle and how receptive were people to it and how the people within the cricketing community react.


I think there's a real problem with the ethical sense of it. And I think you need a deep physiological, psychological, philosophical examination into it and theological examination of which I I'm not capable that if I if I digress a little bit into my personal life outside.


My father was a government, so he ran a scientific lab under. I was never allowed to even sit in his staff car. You know, he just asked them to take him to the station. There was no way that was public. Nothing to do with the family that I went to and. I was just in Stephen's college and my classmates were children of government servants like my father, and they came in the golf cart to college. They didn't come by the bustling university special.


So it struck me that, hey, my father is a certain kind of standard of these days of the U.S. right now.


I think if my father was poorly executed, he'd grown up in the order of the freedom struggle. He had an uncle, his own father's elder brother was a schoolteacher mother allegedly in Connecticut, whose name is on social media for fighting for the emancipation of the reservation in government schools, comes in part because of what my grandmother, my father. So you see the examples of the freedom struggle and the ethical standards of that time. The father we got to the freedom struggle, those standards, and we became more and more transactional.


So we don't recognize conflict of interest. We also don't recognize copyright videos years. Twenty years ago, a young, ambitious cricket writer stole some of my work. And I was upset about it and I was talking to my friend Justin, who's the distinguished historian, and she said, look, for India when it comes to the Bollywood film, Copywrite means the right to copy the Indian definition of copyright is the right to copyright. So I think there is something seriously problematic with Indian ethical standards.


Michael, I will never do what's real. And that's a and that's. Maybe not because you can disagree more of an ethical person, but the moral compass of the people in that country. Maybe I really have to reflect upon because I question whether there's this issue about driving his fans who are outraged with the abuse I got from my dad's first instinct relating the book was to get defensive because after such a great man, how dare to be a writer especially very reflective upon it.


He thought about it. He met Mike Bradley, had a chat with him and realized maybe he had been wrong. And you wrote me a most gracious note and then we resumed our civil relations got so but that. So how did this guy, this loser, this historian who has never even paid for his club, talk about a man with a few hundred thousand dollars? A couple of very tough words, but I think there is an issue. And the fact that so soon after that, Ganguly is doing what he is doing totally and totally, totally.


And of course, you've got the protection of marriage and divorce and particularly Charles. And the fact that I send secretary was is very much part of the highest and the biggest and the most important political protection in the land for the despicable conflict of interest. But it's not just Ganguli. It's an Indian disease. We don't believe in copyright. We don't we disregard conflict of interest. We have to introspect about our collective ethical failure, of which cricket is only a number of thoughts.


I mean, I of course, remember there was a battle of words in Outlook with this young writer. We won't name him because if you haven't named him, I won't either. But I have as little respect for the subsequent work as I'm sure you do. But before we get down to the cricket itself, because I want to ask you sort of more about that period of time and the different conflicts of interest, that there were a couple of sort of a game thinking aloud about what you just said, that, you know, your father imbibed the values of the freedom struggle and all that.


And those values later in a later generation became more transactional. And I have a couple of thoughts here. One is a long time back know Gaudium sort of musing on why, you know, people keep complaining that leaders of today don't have the intellectual and moral stature of those at the time because independence, you know, who had got the freedom struggle. And my explanation came from that. Look, we were following the incentives. All of the people who rose to prominence during the freedom struggle were not out the power because there was no power to be had.


There were, in fact, risking their lives and sacrificing their careers for higher principles. So you had that stature of leader because that's what they were going for. And the Indian state then became such a predatory, parasitic beast that ultimately it today politics is a game for power. I keep saying that, you know, elections are basically competing mafias who are fighting for the right to have a monopoly on violence for five years. And it seems to me that this change in incentives have also led to a change in the kind of leaders that we see and therefore, in a sense, a kind of, you know, things that we aspire to.


The other aspect of it, as far as the you know, the change in values is concerned is an observation I think Jagdish Bhagwati made a long time ago about how people in China are more profit seeking than people in India who are more rent seeking. And we won't go into how whether one agrees or disagrees with his observation on China. But for India, I feel even with all these years after liberalisation, when you would have expected the mindset to change is still true that you know, because so many of the levers of the power of the state, we have this rent seeking mindset where No.


One, we want to be part of that or controlling about it. So we can make some money of others. And number two, even in business, so many people have the mindset that I want to exploit someone rather than I want to provide value to someone and therefore make a profit for myself. And therefore they have this zero sum mentality rather than a positive sum mentality. So these are just sort of two broad observations. I thought before we get back to the cricket, I'll share them with you and ask you for your thoughts.


I agree with you. I mean, I think, again, if I think you mentioned business and the fact that, you know, individual businessmen are not just also very keen to strike a separate individual deals with the state, you know, with politicians, which is tragic, but that's not what you can. Cannibalisation would be about, you know, a year ago. I mean, this is just a nonpolluting observation, but still it may be relevant to what you said a year ago.


I wrote to. A dozen of our top enterprising industrialists, all of whom I knew personally in different capacities because of my long picketing work and that kind of stuff, and they invited me to talk to the senior management of what had been a university with me.


And I wrote a dozen of them saying, look what's happened after the application of Article 370 and the ACA is going to be disastrous for our country, for our social fabric and for our economy, our reputation. The world is going to be destroyed by this kind of rampant majoritarianism and we are going to lose track of all the progress we've made in 30 years after liberalisers. And this is well before the end of August, September last year. And I wrote to them saying in the 1940s.


Before independence, eight or nine prominent investors, including Bidlack, Takeshita Massata, had the Bombay plan where they told everyone, Patel, just the kind of economic reason for you all to get together and formulate a plan so that we don't lose track of where we need to be economically and don't our political leadership doesn't focus merely on demonizing Muslims could be disastrous.


Economic lekker also didn't what as it. You do realize that one day my mind what I all the troubles that I said look around but I just cannot. He's been attacked because he's alone. But if you represented the whole. These are all these are these people are not a body and they are not crony capitalism depend on favors. And we can rule that with regulations to be companies that people have considered entrepreneurial and technological achievement.


Each one of them, I said to all, if you like, a joint new Bombay development because half of you are based in Bangalore and put it out there.


Don't mention politics. Don't mention because we don't mention. Just say that we are in the economic inflection point where if the government continues debate is doing, 30 years of economic progress will be lost. I got to replace one set, the other one said, I wish I could, but no one will join me because they all work, most of them. The one who told them what it may have, both of them wanted to strike the individual deals with the state that no to do something where they would have been hurt, you know, it would be out there.


They could have got the all collective revenue also to edit their economics editor to be the charter for India's future.


But of course, they were too scared, too intimidated, happy to just have their own individual relationship.


Even they wouldn't act collectively, even though it's tragic that that's how if our most powerful people. Also unwilling to take remotely any kind of risk what a collective good it speaks very poorly of. So I want to go off on a couple of tangents here, but before I do that, I have, you know, magnificent effort and, you know, kudos to you for doing this. It seems like the kind of idealistic thing that cannot possibly succeed, but much admiration for that.


But, you know, one of the candidates I want to go on is this reminded me of the one single small disagreement I had with your book in the of the Gundi, which I thought I should mention now, which is, you know, one thing that you pointed out is that all of these businessmen wanted to strike deals with the government and be cronies of a sort or whatever, which is, of course, something that was the only way to actually be in business until liberalization.


And it's still the dominant way to make money for money and make money through business. And one of the things that I keep sort of pointing out is which Milton Friedman, I think, first articulated a case that's no better learned it from, is that we must see the distinction between what is pro market and what is pro-business. And they're actually opposite what is pro-business for an existing businessman would want to protected economy where there is no ease of entry and his business is protected and incumbents can't come in.


And that is so what is pro-business is actually anti market. And that hurts of people because there is less competition. Therefore, they have less choice, higher prices, all of that. Now, I remember in India after Gandhi, if my recollection serves me right, you pointed to the Bombay plan, which although Bombay, which all these industrialists had come up with, where they sort of supported Nehru's vision of a state controlled economy. And you had kind of implied that that was a validation from businesspeople of sort of Nehru's master plan for the economy.


And therefore, look, even the businesspeople agreed. But my point is, of course, it would, because it was in their interests, but not the interest of the people, because businessmen sort of want to protected the kind of market. But having sort of gotten that out of the way, they did. The other interesting sort of the analogy that I like to draw going on from what you said is that if I might speculate and think aloud on why these businessmen that you wrote to would have been wary of something like this is similar to why there would be people within the Congress who would realize that the current rule of the Gundy's is bad for them, but they would be unwilling to fight.


And yes, the game theoretic principle here in game theory, it's called WellDoc Act. And, you know, from that old proverb and the thing is all the mice agreed the cat should be buried, but no mouse is going to be willing to take the ball to the cat and attempted because it's too risky to be the first one would in a case like this. And I suspect there might be a similar sentiment where if all 12 were to meet in a room and decide that now we will put out this statement, it's far likelier than in the little desperate corners to say that I'm not going to be the first, because that's really just an idea.


Congress is a little more complicated. I've been reflecting upon this. And, for example, to all the people who come out in support of the family are actually at my side counterintuitive because they are the two mosquitos bargaining in Chattisgarh and that is that. But they want to protect the system. They are the focus and that is good. And the other side and rather than stake out for national leadership. Yes, absolutely. There is certainly a similarity in the situation.


So, yeah, let's go back to cricket. And you referred to some of these conflicts of interest and for the benefit of listeners who might not be aware, quickly point out whatever one of them, of course, was. And in a separate place, you pointed out about how the BBC had taken over the production of cricket. And the problem with this was that they were paying the commentators, you know, three point six gross per year. And therefore, the commentators obviously would, you know, be incentivised to not speak against them.


But the other sort of conflicts you pointed out is that one is one Ilgauskas was a commentator on cricket at the same time as the company which he owned. BMG was representing the cricketers. And therefore, it would be in his interest to, you know, talk them up in a commentary. And whether he did or did not is irrelevant. The fact that the conflict of interest existed is a problem. Another conflict was Dravid was looking out for the under 19 teams and at the same time he was also looking after their tables, as they were then called.


And the difference, of course, was that the PCC contract is for ten months and for two months I can do what I want with such contracts seem designed to allow exactly this kind of conflict of interest. And, you know, then, of course, there are many, many conflicts of interest because he was, you know, associated with this player agency that represented certain players such as Richard I know, who arguably played more Test matches than he should have won.


When was more Test matches all year.


And current chairman who without any kind of First-Class record got be. And on that sort of go to Australia very famously, Srinivasan, you've also spoken about one conflict of interest, by the way, as an aside, which you did not kind of mention, was your Karnataka folks, Raja Behney being part of the selection committee even would Benegal selected for the two to England and Raja there, of course said that, look, I had to recuse myself from the meeting, but that is that that is obviously an inadequate explanation.


So tell me a bit about the struggle to get this point through. Like Michael who's who had, you know, written very eloquently about this and had been writing eloquently about this. I remember a specific, fantastic piece you wrote, I think, either for cooking for Hindu on the subject, but these were voices like McCool's and yours were really like voices in the wilderness. What was your battle like? How was it, you know, what kind of hostility did you get from sort of the players themselves and what eventually took the whole thing to a breaking point where I said that, you know, I can't be part of this anymore.


So, you know, I know several things that happened. One is I visited the ANC. And I was the only member of the CIA based in Bangalore's, which is the CIA has spent several hours talking to them and two of the coaches pointed this out. There's one rule for gravity, no rule for us. We also want asked to be the spin bowling go to the batting coach of Extreme and the CEO of the board said unitholder. So which is very, very startling that this kind of thing was happening.


So clearly, Jody wanted to use his powers of discretion to humor cricketing superstars who could get away with something right now that in any case, I felt it was wrong.


So I raised Diana, to her credit, was supportive of the issue, but instead I did not. And the CEO of the board was, as I've said, you don't want it, especially because it is just as you know, prime minister and finance minister want to withhold licenses and give licenses to different kinds of companies. This is what the CEO of the board wanted for himself.


These are the odds of getting superstars, but this is possibly a breaking point. Other breaking points, too. I mean, one was resample, but we wanted to boycott the championships. So, you know, with this conversation I had with the NCAA, coaches were not allowed. I like I like David to do double dipping would be a national coach and be some kind of a liability.


But also there was a near fiasco of the Champions Trophy where there was a campaign led by city less than others for us to boycott with a Gavaskar and others joining in and the general community of our chairman that he was unwilling to take on people like my son and child who were attending meetings illegally, kind of his temporizing guys.


And I think I'm going to get to know that I also. To go back to when I joined the committee, you will recall, I talk in my book of how I urged Mr. Reagan's colleagues to have a senior military if he had had someone like Senad, for example, on that committee. I think I'm going to push back on the border issues and also allow for a much greater this. Apart from conflict of interest. One of my deep seated problems I faced was getting used to this even today.


I mean, I don't know what is happening is not happening. And we don't seem to care about the building blocks of a nuclear, which is really college and so on.


So ultimately, I decided that it is a waste of my time. I'd say the one modest achievement I left with was to have a girl and she could have been given be given that she can of what other people think. It also chosen into this for a lifetime achievement award for the first time. But really, it's not business as usual. You can see what's happening with it because he says if the Supreme Court never existed.


So I think another digression, and this is something that is almost in my mind, I don't have an answer for this, which is and it's a problem that sporting boards across the world face. Now, the BKA technically is sort of a private body. One question is, who owns the game? Because Innocent Zebco has a sort of a monopsony that which is the opposite of a monopoly in the sense that there is only one buyer for your services. So if an Indian cricketer wants to play, he has nowhere else to go.


She has nowhere else to go other than the Biscayan. Therefore, that gives that power, that bio disproportionate power, which is never good in any market. Typically, what a good market would look like is that you have free entry and you have competition. And that's not an issue. Now, obviously, with the national sport, you can't have that. So what do you do now? One answer would be nationalise the sport. But the problem with that is that all our sports are run so incredibly badly in the UK, for all its flaws, is still much better because it is not run by the government.


The other question that comes up is that while I was of course delighted when I first heard that you will be one of the people who will be taking the decisions, and even if you got a couple of things right, like the award to she will go to Google, that is still a couple of more things than would otherwise have happened. So thank goodness for that. But the larger question there is that did the Supreme Court actually have jurisdiction to be able to see that this private body should sort of be treated like it's a de facto property of the state and will just put these people in charge and all of that?


And if not, what is the solution? Because we know how the structures are all the way down the line. It is thoroughly corrupt and dysfunctional, and yet nationalising it is not a solution. So do you have any thoughts about this? Because I have no answers. I can just see the problem. Bill, you're right.


I mean, maybe it was a case of judicial overreach and maybe the Supreme Court in the first place would not have intervened. Yeah, it's tough to say somewhere. I thought I recorded in this book, which I did. And then I kind of moved back to being a fan, you know?


I mean, it's just now it's just what I'm looking forward to watching stock ball and see what they can get as differences in the early hours of it, because it really can be really I mean, it's clear now that the attempts have totally failed. Maybe they were misplaced in the first place. And naturalizing is not an option. I wish you know, again, it goes back to the quality of individuals. Ganguli could have asserted himself much more in the interests of Indian cricket, in the interests of domestic cricket, in the interests of fairness and transparency.


If a person of this colossal achievement, that stature had pushed back against the intrigues and manipulators who got the mass public support.


But my counterpoint to that would be that if he was a kind of person who would do that, he would not be in that position of power to begin with.


Well, you don't see now, for example, when he joined the case, he built up the academy. He did good work. Eddie was only there for three years. He left. But it's possible to be there for a little while. And this is what I mean. When Betty was running against people like we all came to have top class cricketers to get into administration, you they can do things if they have the right intentions and the correct.


Fair enough. So let's let's kind of move away from sort of the personal narratives of what your journey has been like. I love reading that book in the book and I recommend everyone pick it up. But I want to pick your brains on various aspects of the game. No one actually is connected with the personal in the sense you recount in your book how at one point your good friend and the great, great friend and told you that, listen, you you romanticize the game so much because you have a distance from it.


And if you actually you had to deal with these guys on a daily basis, you would not be have such a romantic notion of the game. So, you know, and I know that there is a shift that as you get in. Then you get skin in the game, so to say, that does change a little bit and you point out the four categories of cricket stars, which I found completely fascinating. So tell me a bit about, one, your experience of sort of the blinkers falling off at different points in time and then what are these four categories and so on?


Yeah, maybe I'll read out that paragraph and then I'll answer your question. OK, so it is after I resigned from the committee of Administrators, I wrote to a friend that there are four categories of cricketing superstars in India, category one Crookes to consult with and team for bigger non cricket playing Crookes category to those who are willing and keen to practice conflict of interest. Category C, those who will try to be on the right side of the law but stay absolutely silent on those categories.


What a new category for those who are themselves clean and also question the crooks and categories. One and do I also offered examples of cricketers I thought fit in two categories one, two and three respectively as a Category four. I said that in India, at India, only one cricketing great and remotely any chance of qualifying for inclusion.


This was, you know. Yeah, I mean, so this was right. And I also caught on the frenzy.


Bangladesh, terrible because I thought the same thing. Yes. I mean, obviously you use your lose your romanticism when you see these guys up front.


It may be the same if you were to see footballers up front, certainly in the English Premier League and other kinds of sporting icons as well. You know, it also may be Will I remember as about jihadist when I did this a little bit about it, just mentioned how my rose-tinted approach to cricketing greatness, but also come from an experience I had with another great sportsman. But I play as a as a college boy. I was watching you play the semi-finals of the Asian Badminton Championship in Calcutta, India, before the distributor umpires is a key player at the second game, 13, 14 or something like that.


Check out. I'm back already given the point, and he knew it was a wrong decision, but he did call the umpire, deliberately served it well outside so that he would get back to the TYPEDEF. I mean, that is kind of, you know, maybe if you see people like DeAndre and take this one not and, you know, Prakash, a boy maybe naive and credulous about the character of some of these people. As I just say, it's incentives.


Maybe the money at stake, that's the right side of all these people.


And I mean, equally, people who I admired and was close to the have for and I don't think that the friendships I had maybe will be the one exception whom I would agree.


You figured I'd probably happily meet outside you, you know, a whole legion of cricketers just, you know, side in disappointment, as I heard that if any of them listen to my podcast, I'll move on now to another of this sort of larger questions I wanted to ask, which is, you know, one of the teams that runs through this book is the loyalties that you form for all the teams that you play for. You know, whether it's your club in Bangalore or, you know, my sword, which later became Karnataka and India and all of that.


And, you know, this is something sporting loyalties are something that I've been thinking about for a while. Even Orwell, of course, wrote that famous essay on it where he spoke about this possible kind of toxicity. And, you know, there are various points where you refer to this kind of patriotism slash nationalism. You know, you've spoken about how everything was so personal, like how devastated you were in 1974 when you were 16 and India made 42, not out.


You've spoken about, you know, when Bangladesh beat back in 1999, Sheikh Hasina called it, quote unquote, the greatest since liberation. That's what sort of the sport meant for the nation. But there is a sad side to it. And you also, you know, there's a there's this beautiful quote from your book, which I'll read out, quote, The saddest moment of 50 years of life cricket watching remains. A World Cup quarterfinal of nineteen ninety six also played in Bangalore when I was the only person in my stand and possibly in the entire stadium who applauded Javed Miandad when he walked off the ground for the last time as an international player.


Stop. Now I can understand why we are wired to kind of form these allegiances, because we are wired, wired to think in tribal terms and a community and divide the world into us versus the other. And I get that. But I also get that that can change the way we look at the world. It might bias the way we sometimes look at opposing players and the kind of performances that they are sort of coming up with. And, you know, in one sense, I like, for example, the English Premier League or the Indian Premier League because I don't have any specific loyalties towards any team.


It's like every year I look at our teams playing and I decide and I can watch a match without being emotionally invested, nor I want this person to win and or shoot, you know, what a missed field and all of that. So there is this trade off where there is this warm sense of community and belonging and, you know, when you form an allegiance like that. But there is a toxic element to it, which a lot of nationalism can drift into.


And B, there is also the element that then you can become sort of A, less you know, you can be biased towards the abilities of your own players and maybe the abilities of others can be less visible to you. What are your feelings about this?


So. To go back to Orwell's essay, which is about supporting nationalism, because sparked by, I think, a Russian football in England and of course, that's where he coined the phrase sport, an organized sport is nothing but war minus the shooting. So sporting nationalism can be toxic. But party loyalty is below the level of the nation and not, in my view as stocks, which is why the older I get a few, she seems like I yes.


But in here, you know, it's like, you know, I think that a local identity, just as I believe. They outside of cricket, I'm a great believer in this, disaggregated from the. I believe every state should have a flag actually has the flag, which is flown by autorickshaw drivers in particular. And I believe every state must have a flag in every city going to have a flag. I remember going to the Belgian of to give a talk many years ago.


There were five flags in the city hall. The town, the county, the province, the county and the European Union. I would suggest that that is so. I believe that since it's only. India versus Pakistan brings out the ugliest it can get in the Pakistani city. But I think lot of Connecticut love of see, of course, that does, for example, I talk in my book about how we always believe that we didn't get a fair chance in selection for the state team.


It was always suspect. So, yes, it has some, you know, sour feelings that come in. But I think it's the most toxic form of sporting nationalism is when you want your country to export all the time. And that's why epigraph to the book is from from England, who says, The longer I live, the less nationalistic I become the outcome of a match. And interesting, but not on the scales of time of any great moment.


What is important is that the political contest gives to posterity a challenge that is for one or yields in classical technique, an innings or a bowling effort that makes the game richer so that the devotee can see years afterwards with joy in his voice. I saw that performance. So I think in that sense, I hope the loyalty, subregional loyalties to your club or to your district or a certain loyalty in my case to Test cricket or to spend more of our classical marksmanship skills can be anything liberating, exciting, or if the different different sporting matches.


I'll come back to the IPL later because I have a set of questions on that. And there I think I disagree a little bit with you. But before that continuing, you know, the other aspect I wanted to ask you about and in a sense is kind of related to this is about as initialisms. For example, you know, people will always speak about the Bombay School of Marksmanship and, you know, charter line from Merchant to Gavaskar to Tendulkar and so on, and maybe at 100 today, because the same kind of doggedness or whatever or nobody in the same class.


And, you know, there are some quotes from your book which sort of tend to go down that line when it comes to Bangalore. Like at one point you quote Greg Chappell saying, and this is after the India tour where we beat West Indies, which was a phenomenal win. And it was incredible how centuries, which are just should be in the pantheon. But I've forgotten what he was talking about, private and public. And Chappell said, quote, No team has had two more dogged, resilient and proud competitors.


And for them, the team always came. First, there must be something in the water of Bangalore Stockwood which must have warmed your heart. And elsewhere, you sort of talk about and you know, this is probably part of your answer about whether there is something to this essentialism. And the answer could be that, of course, you don't, because culture is leading to the kind of players that come up. And at one point you write code like you're writing about changing Bangalore and you write code.


These shades of difference reflects the changing sociology of the city, the Bangalore that we see in general. Playford was that of the Moberly different rooms and the UN encroached upon Cubin Park, the town of bungalows and Green Bobert calling M0 then had more cinema houses than it had got to Bangalore to Dravidian. Coomalie played in most of Epsilon and Infosys of glass and concrete and no boards at all of buses and motorbikes and SUVs all piled up in horrendous traffic jams.


Stop. And later on, of course, you talk about how the changing world, even though there is so much similar in different ways about the Vishwanath and a Dovid, but you talk about how it was Agapito issues betting there is a gravity to to conduct Stockwood. Tell me a little bit about this that, you know, on the one hand we are told, don't generalize, don't give in to this kind of essentialism. But on the other hand, it does seem to be a lot of truth to it, doesn't it?


Yeah. I mean, yeah, but this is still a competition. There's not a lack of scholarship. I would never write remotely like this. It was one of my historical works. I would not say Indians are discouraged because I like this. I would obviously not. I was kind of indulging myself. Travel, having fun. Yeah, of course. I mean, there is a but it is true that I mean, I just at a humorous story, I mean, I to go to local authority, which is not a the fixing scandal broke up, you remember.


So my first response was they are using it as a.


So I said he doesn't look silly and pathetic of me to myself to kind of rationalize match fixing it this kind of, you know, the local parochialism. But it's part of and I believe, you know, I get to go back to what I said earlier. I mean, one nation, one leader, one party, one ideology, one religion, one language problem, a hugely problematic but less overlapping forms of identity, I find to be an intricate to a much, much more enabling entity, much less divisive, much less toxic, to use your phrase or or phrase.


So that's it.


I mean, when you speak of a lot of it is to go to Bangalore, you are not a divider.


You getting everyone, the Hindu, Muslim, Christian party, then middle class male female driver is not a good place right now. So in that sense, what it is, it is a flight of fancy Exelixis.


The extravagance that is a book of this guy that can be for me. No, no.


I loved it. I'm not I'm not complaining about it, though. If people on Twitter got as far down this episode, which I don't think of it as hearing your lines about, oh, there's no comedy guy involved in match fixing, they would probably find a way to jump on you for that. And you know that what you just said about overlapping identities is something that, you know, I also feel so strongly about. And with that and it strikes me that there is a subtlety to that view.


And then, you know, the moment I thought that in my head, I thought, look, look at the subtitle of the book. This is a more subtle game after all. So it took me back to that opening question about whether the game can shape its watchhouse in some way. And my my next sort of area I want to explore is about the IPL. And in fact, it's it's a good segue. We're talking about sort of.


And here I'll say I agree with a lot of your views on it and also sort of disagree with them. And I'll treat them as well. And, you know, one of the interesting things is, of course, you kind of foresaw the IPL that you wrote in a column before the IPL came about where you said that I'll quote you where you said I quote, I think that the success in this respect of the Premier League goes for emulation by other sports, especially the South Asian sport par excellence cricket.


Some years ago, the novelist Michael Kesavan suggested that test in one day matches between nations, a staple of international cricket, be supplemented by an intercity tournament. The time has come to revive the tradition. Yes, we had a global tournament in mind, but we might begin with South Asia alone and begin on a modest scale. With the week of 2020 matches played alternately in India, Pakistan, Bangladesh and Sri Lanka between teams representing the cities of these countries.


Stockwood. And then you go on to talk about how Sachin Tendulkar could have played for Karachi and say, well, could have played for Multan and Inzamam for Delhi and all of that, which sounds even more outlandish today than I suppose they would have at that period of time. Now, I sort of have a few thoughts and I'll kind of straighten one is I think that, like, I am a Test cricket tragic like you and Kishwar, but I am also a lover of the IPL.


And the part of the reason for that is that I don't think there's a dichotomy. I think these are, in fact, two completely different sports with different demands. And I think there are two kinds of sort of anchoring effects in play, which I want to talk about. And the first kind of anchoring effect is that a good game first and therefore we become romantically attached to Test cricket and all those values and all of that. And we compare everything to that, where the values that we love in the long, drawn out dramas, the display of hidden characters are, you know, you require different values for 20, which we don't notice immediately, which in my mind are equally subtle, but we don't notice them.


And the thought experiment that I you know, when I make this argument, the thought experiment that I ask people to go down to is imagine if football originated as a six hour game or or, you know, so on and so forth. Any of those who follow sports, which we think of as 90 minutes. So we think that is a perfect length because that is a length which you world first. And I suspect if the twenty cricket had evolved first, one might have thought that, you know, Test cricket is ludicrous.


It doesn't make any sense, just as, you know, a two day football match would seem to us and it would be played out very differently and would have qualities that the shorter format wouldn't. So I think, one, there is that anchoring effect of cricket upon the way we view the shorter games. The second anchoring effect that comes into play, I think here is that because of the way the IPL started, because of the dubious characters who started it, the cronyism and corruption and the early allegations of match fixing and all of that, and the fact that it was an example of something that I deplore as sort of a top down imposition instead of something that came bottom up from the.


A system and there was such a rich local ecosystems in Karnataka and Bombay and Delhi that, you know, there's an instant disdain for it. But, you know, if we look past that and normally I say about public policy, that we should not look at the intention and we should look at outcoming when I see that the intention is good and the outcome is bad. In this case, the intention of the powers that be might not have been that great.


But I think the outcome has been fantastic. And I'll point out a couple of ways in which I feel that way. And then you can respond. One is a pure economics of it that back in the day only a handful of people could really expect to make a living of the game. And that's if you played cricket for India. And now that pool of players who can actually make money of the game has widened enormously and thus provided an incentive for many more people to stay in cricket while they might otherwise have sort of gone abroad and left the game or, you know, done further studies and all of that.


And I think that's great. It's just providing a much better livelihood for so many more people associated with the game. The other aspect of it, which I think has helped US cricket as well, I mean, one economic way in which it has helped US cricket is that viewership was dwindling. And to some extent I think T twenty cricket and I'd say 20 IPL are kind of separate, not the same thing. But, you know, the IPL is of course the dominant driver that won in some senses.


G20 cricket subsidizes this in a commercial sense. And to the other aspect of it is and this is both a good side and a bad side, that because young people in India today, as you pointed out, are incentivized to play the IPL because of the instant fame and the riches, what they practice in the next four years to be IPL stars. They are no longer practising their skills. They are practising ODI E20 skills. And this means that batsmen have a far wider area of aggressive strokes.


Bowlers have also evolved. And I hold firmly to the view that bowlers still win matches even in IPL, like the top two teams of this year, Bombay in Delhi, where the two teams with the best bowling sites and you know, at one point in the middle of the IPL, when Rahul and my uncle Goodwell were top of the run scored run charts, their team in Punjab was right to the bottom. Cibolo still win you games, but skills of batsmen's bowlers and fielders have just gone off the charts.


The trade off is that certain skills which are specific to Test cricket like how to play the moving ball and Headingley, how to play. James Anderson, as you said, the only contemporary bowler you respect those have diminished. But those sort of occasions come about so rarely that, you know, no one can bemoan them, but see that there's been a big net positive. And I think part of what I submit that you might be doing is that you're letting the influence of how the IPL came to being with all the cronyism and the corruption and all the unsavory elements on which I agree with you, completely affect the other things that have happened, because I think it's just a sport with enormous internal drama and beautiful intricacies, you know, and it's a different sport.


I mean, comparing this cricket and the twenty cricket is like comparing badminton and tennis, that there is a superficial similarity that people are hitting balls over the net or something over the net with the racket. But otherwise they are so completely different.


So, you know, so I know I'm being very provocative here, but what what's your response to put your case for particularly that it's a different kind of game regarding different skills and a new set of skills, both bowling and batting and so on.


And that's something that's not really, as I may have implied or insinuated in my book, it's not merely a dumbed down version of it for a different kind of game altogether. As you said, badminton to tennis up. I'm not convinced that it is generating all that much income, not paid. I mean, they still get paid at the local distribution. Is it going down the line? Probably not. I mean, so it's led to more corruption, silencing of state associations by but this kind of thing.


So the argument is that it is helping the game. I think we do because we are winning more overseas because there's more money generally, economically, we are much more powerful, a better bet. Players are better trained. We are a billion people to Australia. Twenty billion, and they have other competing sports and so on. So I don't think I don't think I mean everyone really good. The latest estimates are produced by 2020 cricket. David, want to learn the skills, become a great bowler playing, you know, I mean or or college or whatever.


So I'm not sure that from other skills point of view or really and the team player so much, it's been so beneficial, maybe to a modest extent, maybe aesthetically you're right. But I make too strong a case on behalf of.


But aesthetics, the aesthetics are not only about the game, I can't bear it. I saw how I doing it, so I want to put it on you. I actually I have never gone for that. Even though I had a free pass in the first year or two, I occasionally was the odd snippet. For example, if I had gone out, if I was in a restaurant and I saw one of the team, one wanted a die.


So I remember I was having dinner in Bangalore, but sometimes I disappeared because I saw one of the TV and I saw him when he was. Of course, I just don't see that, did I? But I don't I suppose he was also CSK even then, and it became independent in the end and got shocked me. And I said, wow, what a great I've the one moment of the IPL I remember watching on the television over 12 years.


Right. So but in my case, I mean, in fairness to why I don't watch it, there's also a personal context, and that is I'm No. Sixty 62, my love of cricket, my obsession with cricket. Has been conjoined with my love of Indian classical music when I was young, my time must not divide. If I two hours in the evening, I would watch cricket if I had reached another years, meaning I'd much rather listen to Alaska radio station Vanimo or Immiscible actually AT&T.


Now onto Delois, some dum dum dum dum.


Incredibly vulgar screaming and all these idiotic Indian commentators. So what is that? What is that? I mentioned that the rally that I watch Synagro will be 20 marks for the world championship that I enjoyed so I could see the aesthetics qualities even in the smaller game. But it may also be that I'm too old to cultivate a new interest in a new person. I mean, for me, every evening I listen to this every single evening without fear.


Sometimes there are some benefits to us and that give me the integrity to say so. It may even give me more pleasure that even experts doubt nowadays.


But I can see the point you're making. I have not followed it enough closely enough. The way you have other people I respect is to acknowledge that respect would make similar points, that the ability of the bowler snowball to disguise the use of the crease, the inventiveness as a batsman, and also the captaincy which bowler to bring on for which you will win and how to sequence that is a different kind of you know, it's not like honestly being aggressive.


It almost at the end of it. All right. On a dusty track to keep another company and Radio National do your job. So the captaincy ought to add to what you said. The captaincy volunteered for different batsmen, how to play a field in which over the field for calling in the 11th, we were different from the field for the seventh in the field, according to the same of us, different than to seem to agree with the ball ball.


So, of course, there's a lot of strategy involved in this game. Like baseball. It's like baseball, depending on what kind of batsman you're facing. So I can appreciate that.


And but maybe I'm too old to get so deep into it if it is.


Indeed, I took a different kind of game. It's badminton to Test cricket, tennis. You know, I'm too old to make that kind of emotional and intellectual investment to get so deep into it that I just deal with what I like to just. Yeah, absolutely.


Before I go into my life. Kind of couple of questions. Just quick responses. When I heard Sangakkara name it, I remembered another delightful anecdote from your book where you talk about how Sangakkara at one point turned to you and says one thing he loves about India is old Monk and that's so nice. That's like another concrete little thing, which is like it's, it's not a drink, right. It's a cultural marker of sorts which kind of unites us almost like cricket.


And I found that delightful. The second thought that came to mind was that all these years I have watched with the volume on mute. This year, for the first time, I found occasion not to do so because they had a separate channel Cosulich the Goat, where they had my favourite commentator right now, Graeme Swann, just I just love this commentary. Absolutely fantastic. So you had Swan and Scott stories and Brian Lara, surprisingly good commentators, surprising, surprising resolve and insight, head of, as it were, which has come to him with the euro.


So I really love that. That's a recommendation next year, if you should be looking at that.


So it's called the select go to start sports. One, two, three will show the English and Hindi commentaries. Which sport select should this government go in March when it comes around? I think March or April. The other point I wanted to make is sort of a dual point. So both a disagreement on and on this agreement, because these are different categories. One, when you speak about nobody coming from IPL and becoming a star, one, I don't see why there should be a metric at all that somebody from IPL should become good in another sport, as it were.


But to even within that metric, I would say that, you know, Boomerang was discovered by Jones right before he had played Ranji Match. I think it better, you know, one of the limited overs games for his side. And he was so unconventional and one doesn't know if he would have come through the system. But because of the incentives, because within the artificial world of the IPL, it wasn't a monopsony. There were multiple bio's sides were incentivized to set up their own sort of scouts' and everything.


And John, right. Was the chief scout for Bombay. He not only from Bloomberg, he phoned up on the brothers. I think, you know, someone like Dick Punj is sort of a stereotype as someone who just goes out and talks and hits. I think he's a wonderful batsman and even in the best format. And hopefully he'll prove me right. And these won't be words that embarrass me a few years down the line. And even Steve Smith, we first noticed him when he was like a spinning all rounder in the IPL.


And from then he went on to become a discrete, which he might well have anyway. But I'll sort of move on to my last two questions now and not sort of litigate the matter of. Appeal any further, you know, you've described yourself as a cricket tragic, which to some extent I feel I am do I do also have this appreciation for this different sport, you know, and, you know, when you write about this book, one, I feel great, joy, because my own memories come flooding back to me through the conduit of the feelings that you're describing and, you know, the first match you've seen and this happened and you know all of that.


But there is also it feels in a way, like a lament of something lost. And is there a larger element within that, that the same way that as cricket was a sport for its time with that, with time moved in a leisurely way, people had so many things to do. Everyone is not looking into their smartphones. People are united by their love of cricket where, you know, 40 people in a bus can suddenly turn towards that one transistor radio that is blaring.


Is it? You know, when you think about everything that has happened and it almost seems that the change in the last 10, 15 years, specifically seesmic, but you've got a longer span of looking at this and I have. Plus, you've been a historian, so you've gone much further back in time and now you've come here. Is your lament deeper than that? Is it not just cricket? Are you are you also in India or tragic in a sense?


Are you also bemoaning values that have changed your way of life that has gone? You know, can you tell me a little bit more about your film? I might take issue with. The use of the word lemon. All right. Obviously, he's got two chapters in the U.K. that I say to discuss things, but, you know, in my book I talk about how he replaces my boyhood hero, not in the alltime 11. And this conversation, you persuaded me that Boomerang has a much better case than I hear or see not to partner with the new ball in that endeavor.


So I appreciate it. That's why if I if it was all about lemon and nostalgia, I wouldn't be watching youngsters the year after year after year. So but it is because it's a memoir. It goes back a long time.


The older you get, you see your youthful interests and enthusiasms and obsessions and a certain warm glow, you know, warm sentiments.


And so they were the nasty. This gets ironed out. And there was also nastiness. I mean, I don't talk in my book about the intrigue in selections in Stephen's College or captain the chosen university. So it is not at all wonderful there. Right. So they were. But I grew up the street, so I love it. I still I'm looking forward. I didn't want to happen at all. I didn't follow it. I don't know which one did.


You told me that Delhi and Bombay were in the final. I had no clue. I look forward to start pulling the Pajaro, which I've talked about, and get up and watch that. Is it a model for what is happening elsewhere? Again, it's it's like I'm particularly in a year and a half ago, I was not I tell you about India brought about because.


It is it has been true that ethical standards in public life have gone down. So there are no new rules and ideologies in America anymore? Absolutely not. They are the outstanding civil servants we have. We don't. But there was innovation and sheer genius in things. More daring book Calicut in fields like entrepreneurship, research, civil society, activism. That was absolutely when I was young, when I was young in the 70s and 80s, Indians were class and we depended on the Bob Sarcone.


We didn't have the kind of extraordinary efflorescence you have in entrepreneurship, in civil society, activism, in creativity, creativity and freedom in writing is good writing, in pop music, in art, extraordinary things young Indians are doing all over India of all kinds of cultural backgrounds, and very few of them from Stephens and thankfully so. Right. So in that sense, I was not a bitter nostalgic for the last 18 months, particularly after the re-election of London and what is followed.


That is, first of all, the majoritarianism represented by particular Ahmed Shah coming to government and then the crash. What happened in Kashmir to see the capitulation of the Supreme Court, the intimidation of the press are learning, standing even in the neighborhood where Bangladesh, a country we had to create, we have needlessly alienated in India. Is that a part of the decline of our economy for which we are not going to recover the contempt for science, the contempt for expertise, this love jihad nonsense, that is the latest phobia that is brought before us to distract us from the real problems our country is facing.


So 18 months ago, I was not an idiot, but now I really do despair for my country and the state of the Communist Party. I mean, so you, Gandhi and the whole Gandhi are the chief enablers of Modi and shot Modi, unsure of this destroys and damages of the Indian republican secular fabric. What enabled by that despicable family that controls the Communist Party. So today, maybe today in a larger sense. The things will change. I mean, I know that as a historian, nothing is permanent and permanent winners and losers, but what has happened in the last 18 months of before the pandemic started, we talk politics and economics are institutions.


Our press and our courts has certainly made me despairing of.


You know, I share those sentiments. Hundred percent of that we even discussed right in the Republic Day episode earlier this year. But if anything, there's less cause for hope. And I often find myself withdrawing more into the personal and trying not to think about politics, because what can one do anyway to sort of shift back to something that gives us joy, but not cricket? My final question is really a request for you to do a service to both me and my listeners and share recommend some classical music for us to listen to.


What do you listen to every evening? Who are the artists you keep going back to? And specifically, you know, what are the compositions or songs or whatever that give you a lot of joy? Because I'd love to try out some of that.


You know, I mean, I confess to confession, which is also a statement of fact. I'm an enthusiastic amateur listener of Indian classical music with the emphasis on the Amica, OK? I'm a kid, an enthusiastic follower of cricket with some like a cricket, as well as someone who has played with Future and as himself. So I know much more about the techniques and techniques of cricket than I do about music. So enthusiastic amateur is not it would not be appropriate for me to recommend Bussy except to say to add to what I've said every evening I listen to music.


All right. Or a long flight. I only listen to music. So when I'm taking a 14 hour flight to Chicago, for example, which I don't anymore, I would listen to all this bit like hard work time because local music would make me much more emotionally involved. And I find the most best cure for jetlag is Indian classical music instrumental. I listen to a lot on YouTube. I have my own collection. A friend recently very graciously put 70 cassettes of mine recorded in the 70s and 1980s of national programs are already a radio on and three.


So they're on my system, so I listen to them to the day. I can't write with music. I have friends who can type of music. I can read with music to listen to music and to be again, I.


It would not be appropriate for me to recommend pieces of music because of my imperfect knowledge of it. Like, well, I, I know I have friends who are profoundly knowledgeable. So I have a friend who is a retired civil servant called Case of this Graduate who's just written a magnificent book on immiscible, actually that's coming out next month, the first serious musical biography. So I often call him. So three days ago, what happened was I was listening to Krishna on YouTube and there was a kind of song he sang and he said before singing it, it's like this song is based on a poem composed by D.V..


Now, there's no reason for you to know how difficult it was, but some listeners in Bangalore will learn that there's a goodbye road in by somebody, a few of them in Lahore. It's named after a very distinguished liberal intellectual, probably a preeminent follower of Gopalakrishnan, who founded the institute in Bangalore. I do this, but I didn't know that Goonellabah was a composer of poetry that was inside the music. So I called my education and he told me, this is in Bihar, wound up on campus, something else, which is also sung in Bihar.


He gave me the link and I went to the link to the kind of joy you get from music and from learning from people who are more knowledgeable. Again, I'm very privileged. I just make one last name. If you're interested, I can persuade him.


There's a great scholar of Hindustani and classical music, Classical Balakrishnan, who tweets under the handle Gopal Years Go by Eriks Gopal is Gopal says he is a he sends a curated piece of music to five hundred thousand people to listen to some digits in the study, some digits connected with a paragraph of explanation. Today is the ninety eight month anniversary of being in San Jose. My first exposure to Jose was in a concert. I remember this time with that much.


So I'm going to give tickets and additional come on for you to listen to this morning.


So Gopala GOP. Yeah, yeah. So please follow globalizers. He has the most refined taste in music. You will. And please dedicate this book Admissable Excuse when he comes out. And if you are a fan, Hindustani music read a wonderful book called The Lost World of Hindustani Music by Command, which is published some years ago by, again, a great scholar of classical music. It's a truly beautiful book. Also read the writings of Musical Gelateria, which have been collected under the title rather than just published by Prominent Black by all published.


So it would be impertinent and pompous of me, given my imperfect knowledge of music, to recommend a particular piece of music. Except this to say that you give me really more even than watching listening to justice.


And yet, no, I was not asking you in the spirit of expert recommendations were just in sharing a little bit of yourself, at which point I must thank you for this wonderful book because you have shared so much of yourself in it. And I think part of the richness for the book and the delight in the day that I got from reading the book comes from that melding of the personal and the social and the sporting and all of that. So and I think this is a generosity which is not often remarked upon.


So thank you so much for that. And thank you so much for coming on the show. Thank you of it. Lovely.


If you enjoyed listening to this episode head on over to your nearest bookstore, online or offline and pick up Ramachandra, gorgeous, delightful new book, The Commonwealth of Cricket, a lifelong love affair with the most subtle and sophisticated game known to humankind. And yes, I know you're thinking what a long subtitle, but consider that the author loves Extricate. You can follow him on Twitter at Rama, Underscore GooYa. You can follow me at Amitava Enmity. We ARMM you can browse past episodes of the scene in The Unseen at CNN and you can pick up some scene in the unseen swag at scene, unseen audience stuff and you can enroll for writing and broadcasting courses right away.


The art of curating is at Indian card dot com slash writing. The Art of podcasting is art scene on scene dot and slash loan. Thank you for learning. Oh wait a minute. Don't normally say thank you for listening.


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