A gripping cricket fiction is a rarity, and how about some familiarity!
In K.N. Raghavan’s Reverse Swing one cannot help but spot the uncanny similarities between the lead protagonist, Shankar―a cricketer from Kerala who finds himself caught in a match-fixing imbroglio―and a former Indian pace bowler from Kerala who had a mighty fall from grace after being accused in a match fixing scandal in 2013. But, that is another story. Here, the protagonist that Raghavan conceived has had a rags-to-riches journey. Born in Kochi, Shankar made it big in cricket because of the fire in his belly. He became one of the mainstays of the Indian cricket team and evolved as one of the most feared fast bowlers in the country. Shankar also tasted success in private cricket leagues, with consistent performances. But, somewhere, on the way, he lost track. He chased money, made bad friendships, forgot good friends, fell in love with an actor and broke up, hooked up with molls and generally made a botch of things. Then came the match fixing tangle that ruined his career. This was when a deeply pious Shankar, who made regular visits to Sabarimala, went through a fragile phase; he contritely admitted his guilt. But, was that too late?
Raghavan has carefully woven real life incidents while describing Shankar’s slide downhill; cricket buffs are taken back to glorious moments in Indian cricket over the last decade and a half.
Raghavan, a doctor-turned-IRS officer, was also an accredited cricket umpire and the book provides rare insights into the complexities of the gentleman’s game. The reader is given a close view of the cricketing world―showcasing the good and the ugly. The unsavoury tidbits of private cricket leagues in India are thrown in for good measure to give a comprehensive view of things.
Raghavan, who is the executive director of the Rubber Board and the chairman of the International Rubber Study Group, has written books on cricket, India-China conflict, history of Tibet and the Dalai Lama. The IRS officer from the 1990 batch, who umpired in two ODIs, has been vocal with his views about the game; he retired as an umpire in 2013.
It befits Raghavan to write about the glories and obscurities of the game. Reverse Swing definitely makes for a one-time read.
By K.N. Raghavan
Published by Current Books
Price: Rs320; pages: 231