Vaibhav's winning performance in college category of Mahaquizzer led to us having 500/- to spend in Landmark. As seniors, the choice of books to take was given to Lath and me. We needed no second invitations to rush to the sports section. Unfortunately 500/- is not a good enough amount if you intend to buy books other than those from Vishwa Bharti or Mir publications. That explains why at least the last 20 books I've read haven't been bought by me.
Given the scarcity of choices, for Steve Waugh and Lance Armstrong do not come that cheap, we decided to buy a book called "It takes all sorts: celebrating cricket's colourful characters" written by Peter Roebuck. Regular Sportstar readers and cricket column followers would be very familiar with the famous journalist's and former player's name. I like his columns and the title of the book, apart from having all c's in the description, did sound very inviting.
In retrospect it was a great buy. The book is all anecdote, a collection of the columns Roebuck has written over the years. And since it is a book, the columns are the better ones he has written. The book though has a theme, to discover the strength of character and the focus in a cricketer at various stages in his career. As the title suggests, all sorts of players are taken. From those who became legends in their lifetime to those who lost focus and gave up their game before they could make it big. From those who played with the greatest pride without once thinking of the rewards, to those who betrayed their country for that extra bit of money. Those who led a private life, away from attention, to those who cashed in on their fame showing great disparity between their exploits on the field and off it.
The best ones though are those that touch emotions that people don't imagine cricketers as having. The one on Hansie Cronje after his death chronicling his rise and ultimate fall and the probable redemption in death and another one on David Gower where he is portrayed as a person knowing his limitations and playing his best within it, knowing he can be no Boycott as far as averages are concerned, yet everyone else wanting him to be, are a great read.
After reading I spent hours wondering what my sporting anecdotes would sound like and what they would reveal about my character. What stands out? The premature end to a cricket career with a bouncer or the winning hat-trick in a footer match with a goal down? The unfinished dream of having a rugby match after having procured the ball from NZ no less or the endless skateboarding lessons to peers and the run down the LT slopes during the treasure hunt? The shunning of swimming pool without properly learning to swim or the overly enthusiastic tennis court trips, sometimes twice a day?
Probably the sum total of all these.