Out for a duck

You Must Like Cricket? Memoirs of an Indian cricket fan

Soumya Bhattacharya <em>Yellow Jersey Pres

Soumya Bhattacharya's book title comes from the author's encounter with Martin Amis. He remembers it because "it seemed to epitomise the English view of Indians . . . If you're Indian, you must be crazy about cricket."

In fairness to Amis, Bhattacharya is crazy about the game. He used to eat only bananas for a month to save the money for his trip to Calcutta to watch cricket. He abandons his wife (temporarily) because he has been invited to meet Kapil Dev. When he meets him, he asks if he can touch his hand – the kind of thing that is acceptable only if you're re-enacting Jane Austen.

Anecdotes such as this abound and are the major weakness of the book: it's basically all anecdotes, and there's no story. I've been fanatical about Indian cricket, I know what he's talking about, but this book doesn't satisfy because it doesn't have a point.

Bhattacharya might respond to my criticisms by saying that I've missed the point of the book – it's supposed to be an entertaining distraction rather than an analysis of anything in particular. Fair enough, but unless you, too, are passionate about cricket, this book won't even be a reliably entertaining distraction.

This article first appeared in the 30 October 2006 issue of the New Statesman, Israel: a nation under siege