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A QUICK RUN BETWEEN WICKETS

The Romance of the World Cup Cricket (1975-2003) By K.R. Wadhwaney, Har-Anand, Rs 150

Prior to the world cup cricket championship in South Africa-Zimbabwe next year, a host of cricket books will invariably try to cash in on the excitement. There will be some on the cricket stars, some on the modern-day controversies and some on the history of this tournament. However, it looks like K.R. Wadhwaney, an experienced journalist, has stolen a march on all of them with The Romance of the World Cup Cricket (1975-2003).

The book is full of incidents and interesting anecdotes. One shows, for instance, how the former cricket star, Imran Khan, marshalled his team to win the 1992 World Cup Down Under. Another shows how South Africa returned to the fold of international cricket following the end of the apartheid era.

Readers are given a comprehensive history of how the world cup juggernaut was set rolling, the decline of West Indies as a world power in cricket and the subsequent rise of Australia.

The most interesting chapters are on the manipulations and political- financial compulsions which led to the world cup being shifted from England to India. The role of N.K.P. Salve is highlighted well and the author also presents comparative statement of accounts, which led to many nations supporting India’s bid to host the 1987 world cup.

There is also an interesting chapter on the role of the match-referee, biographical sketches of the winning captains and the leading players — from Vivian Richards, Ian Botham, Alan Border, Sachin Tendulkar, Jav- ed Miandad to Steve Waugh, Alan Donald and Sanath Jayasurya.

The opening chapter of the book provides interesting historical material on the evolution of the game in India — from the time of the white colonizers to the flamboyant cricketing heroes of today.

The closing chapters of the book provide details on all the grounds where matches will be staged in the coming world cup in South Africa. The last chapter also analyses the prospects of the twelve participants. The author, quite unabashedly, has plumped for the reigning champions Australia, and hosts South Africa as favourites of the 2003 world cup. But as the history of the tournament shows, world cups always have their own surprises to offer.

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