RAJESH KUMAR - Cricket Statisticians
From Mumbai to Durban - India's Greatest Tests
From Mumbai to Durban - India's Greatest Tests
- by S.Giridhar & V.J.Raghunath

Published by Juggernaut Books
KS House, 118 Shahpur Jat, New Delhi - 110049.

The book is available in bookstores and on www.juggernaut.in

Price Rs.799/-

Pages 387

From Mumbai to Durban - India's Greatest Tests is an outstanding publication, a sports aficionado's delight.

VVS Laxman, on going through the book, has remarked: "A beautiful journey through India's cricket history. With stories of India's finest Tests and cricketers told with such warmth, it is a book to cherish."

According to S.Venkataraghavan, the book is "A must-read for cricket lovers and enthusiasts of all ages, especially the younger generation who would come to know of the exploits of Indian cricketers of the past and their glorious achievements. The authors must be complimented for their exhaustive, painstaking research and analysis. The book revived a lot of fond memories from the past."

The 28 Tests selected in this book, according to the authors, celebrate not just great victories, but also hard-fought games that demonstrated courage and a never-say-die spirit; heroic fourth-innings efforts which were testimony to both character and skill; and matches where India bucked all odds and rose as a team. "Our selection therefore also includes nail-biting draws, a memorable tied Test as well as a game lost after brave combat. We have consciously ignored one-sided victories as also Tests won against weaker sides."

The authors believed Nawab of Pataudi brought a complete change in the team culture, emphasising that the players were not representing Bombay or Madras or Calcutta but India. "Not everyone may have felt that he was a great tactician but everyone agreed that he was the best thing to happen to Indian cricket. Pataudi received valuable support in his initial days from Umrigar and Vijay Manjrekar and he always remembered them with gratitude. Whether it was Phadkar, Nadkarni or Bedi, they all spoke of Pataudi's captaincy and his impact on team culture in the most glowing terms."

India's strength has always been the spin bowling. The writers ask to those who marvel at the famed spin quartet (Bedi, Prasanna, Chandrasekhar and Venkatarahavan) of the 1970s, was the combination of Mankad, Gupte and Ghulam Ahmed in the 1950s any less. It was just that they did not have the kind of catching support the spin quartet got.

India's triumph by seven wickets with a day to spare over West Indies at Port of Spain in March 1971 was their finest victory till that time according to S.Giridhar & V.J.Raghunath. It was India's first victory in 25 Tests between the two teams. After their 1971 series win (1-0) over England, thanks to their four-wicket victory at The Oval, the Indian team returned home to an unprecedented welcome. They were received like kings at Bombay's Santa Cruz airport, submerged in garlands of marigold, travelling in a cavalcade that took hours to cover a few miles because thousands of fans had come to greet them. The gratitude and happiness of a cricket-mad nation knew no bounds.

Handsomely produced, the book has been meticulously researched by the authors.

The book is well worth reading and will provide much to think and talk about. The quality of the paper, beautiful snaps and the generous spacing all enhance the fascinating material.