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Big Freddie booked again

William Shakespeare probably had Andrew Flintoff in mind when he wrote in his just discovered new play, Twelfth Man: “Be not afraid of captaincy: some are born captain, some achieve captaincy and some have captaincy thrust upon them.”

And no, despite Greg Chappell’s claims, he didn’t write: “Some having achieved captaincy are loath to relinquish this crown of thorns.”

The other day at one of my favourite watering holes in Mumbai, the Nalanda bookshop at the Taj Mahal Hotel, I noticed a pile of Being Freddie, the autobiography of Andrew Flintoff. Published in the UK by Hodder & Stoughton immediately after England’s Ashes triumph, it has since gone on to sell a remarkable 300,000 copies worldwide in hardback. Although initially priced at '18.99, I have seen it plummet to '6.99.

I would have thought everything we wanted to know about Flintoff was contained in Being Freddie but apparently not. Hodder & Stoughton are flying Flintoff’s ghost writer, sports journalist Myles Hodgson, to India for the rest of the tour to gather masala for a sequel, Freddie: My World, which will be published in October and which was being heavily promoted at the London Book Fair last week.

In this heavily pictorial book, Flintoff will “talk candidly about his fame, his family, the sport he loves and the effect it has had on his life since the incredible summer of 2005”.

It was Hodgson who sat up with Flintoff the night England won the Ashes and debriefed the not entirely sober Freddie for the final chapter of Being Freddie.

It remains to be seen how Flintoff’s India tour turns out but he has already received a certain amount of stick from the merciless British media for allowing India to mount a late charge at Nagpur. Some even summoned forth the ghost of Ian Botham who was a wonderful all-rounder but who proved to be a dismal flop as captain.

As skipper, he wasn’t going to return home for the birth of his second child. But his wife, Rachael, has given birth 13 days early to a baby boy, Corey, who weighed 6lb 14oz.

Hodder & Stoughton’s sports editor, Roddy Bloomfield, says: “Now that he is captain, there is even more interest than before in him.”

The new book “will include a good slice of the Indian tour”, he adds. One hopes, however, small incidents will not be blown out of proportion.

More of Nehru

The question, “After Nehru Who'”, has been answered. It’s more of Nehru. His legacy, in the form of India’s commitment to a secular, civilised democracy lives on, according to professor Mushirul Hasan, the dapper vice-chancellor of Jamia Millia Islamia in New Delhi, who spoke on why the “dynasty” still retains its appeal at ' where else' the Nehru Centre in London.

With pro-Indian Pakistani Tariq Ali as chairman, the professor launched his wonderfully illustrated book, The Nehrus: personal histories, which has been published by Roli Books in India and by Mercury Books in Britain.

In theory, dynasty and democracy didn’t go together, he conceded, but added: “The case of the Nehrus is somewhat different.”

Later, he told me it was just an accident that he did his PhD in history at Trinity, which just happened to be Nehru’s old Cambridge College.

Earlier, at the London Book Fair, I caught up with Pramod Kapoor, owner of Roli Books who has demonstrated that the quality of publishing in India ' the picture research done by his daughter, Priya, for the Nehru book is stunning ' can match anything available in the West.

“I have been coming to the London Book Fair for 10 years,” said Pramod, who arrived with his wife, Kiran, and his children, Priya and Kapil. “It’s not a British Book Fair. I meet people from Europe and from America as well.”

Potential buyers are interested in the new India, he added, as well as some old favourites. “They are talking of Mittal, Bollywood and the Kama Sutra.”

British Oscars

The headquarters of BAFTA (British Academy of Film and Television Arts) ' 195, Piccadilly ' has witnessed a fair amount of drama recently. The “British Oscars” were staged here and, before that, Lakshmi Mittal’s press conference announcing his bid for Arcelor.

And on Friday, the eighth Tongues on Fire film festival, which celebrates the achievement of women in cinema, began with a gala screening of 15 Park Avenue.

The director, Aparna Sen, should have come, or sent her daughter, Konkona Sen Sharma, one of the cast members. The reason why Hindi cinema succeeds so well in Britain is because its stars have made London virtually their second home, in marked contrast to those of Bengali cinema.

There was such a demand for tickets for 15 Park Avenue that the organisers have had to arrange a second screening on March 19. This time, Aparna Sen should take the trouble to attend or send her daughter to a festival that promises “Experiences beyond Bollywood”.

Incidentally, Tongues on Fire wanted to screen Deepa Mehta’s Water but permission was foolishly withheld by her distributors. Their loss and Deepa’s.

The main attraction this year will be a masterclass held by Lovleen Bains, costume designer for The Rising and Rang De Basanti.

BOYZONE: Raj Chaudhuri (far left) with the cricket team

All worth it

Just 15 minutes’ drive from Gatwick Airport and “set in 500 acres of beautiful landscape” in West Sussex is Worth, an independent Benedictine boarding school whose cricket team will be touring India, under the care of its coach, Raj Chaudhuri, from March 25 to April 4.

The team is headed for a Bangalore tournament involving Frank Anthony, St Joseph’s, International and Lawrence schools, and then for Calcutta, where it will meet Raj’s old school, Don Bosco in Park Circus. Raj, who represented Tripura in the Ranji Trophy (“1495 runs in 23 games and 520 odd runs in 13 games in one dayers”) and who also captained Calcutta University in the Rohinton Baria Trophy, has been cricket coach at Worth since 2004. His life sounds agreeably out of P.G. Wodehouse.

Also coming on tour is Peter Armstrong, headmaster of the school, which has 450 boys, aged 11-18. He will be visiting Bangalore (March 28-30) and Calcutta (April 1-4 ) and is taking out the following advertisement ' “for an appointment to meet him to discuss an English public school education for your son, please e-mail Miss Lorraine at ylorraine@worth.org.uk.”

Ex-St Xavier’s College boy Raj tells me: “I got the job as cricket coach because the headmaster is cricket mad.”

Definitely out of P. G. Wodehouse.

Tittle tattle

Deepak Chopra will be coming to Britain to promote his new door-stopper, Kama Sutra including the Seven Spiritual Laws of Love.

The volume, to be published by Virgin Books, is said to bring together “India’s greatest living writer and most cherished text”.

I am not sure there is much of a market in Britain for this kind of “scholarship”. But good luck to Chopra who has become rich by practising the first law of life ' “you can fool all of the Americans all of the time”.

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