When Dolon asked me to pen down an article on Boria Majumdar’s book – Eleven Gods And A Billion Indians: The On & Off Field Story of Cricket in India and Beyond, I was excited. Having gone through his earlier publication Playing It My Way, Sachin’s autobiography, and having watched the news of the launch of this book, I was expecting to get some insights into something additional apart from the run-of-the-mill cricket books and related statistics. But, voila! What I got, was beyond my imagination! What actually transpired behind the scenes were shared without any inhibition, and most importantly, without trying to be politically correct. This is equally important and essential for the entire billion population of a country, where the biggest Religion is called “Cricket”, and Cricketers… you know what. Eleven Gods and a Billion Indians I feel, will remain as one of the most important books on Indian Cricket for quite some time.
Eleven Gods and a Billion Indians
He has taken us on a tour from pre-independence Indian cricket, how the sepoys beat the English at their own game and what impact it could have had in the overall belief of the population, to the latest South Africa series of 2018. He hasn’t let go of this opportunity to touch upon the other immensely popular sport, football. Apart from the stories the scorecards say, he has given behind the events tales which the avid reader of the sport was eagerly awaiting. The illustrations given in the book will take you down memory lane of the 1983 Prudential World Cup victory and also some rare pictures which hardly anyone has seen.
He has shared stories of the ups-and-downs of Indian cricket. How match-fixing impacted the whole nation at the turn of the century, with so many of celebrated sons getting dethroned, and the uprise thereafter, holding the hands on our very own “Dada”. Boria has provided coverage of Monkeygate, and how it unfolded. He has also revealed behind-the-scenes details of the two most notable altercations between coach and captain in Indian Cricket, firstly Sourav and Chappel, and very recently, between Virat and Anil Kumble.
From his closeness and personal interactions, he has shared what Dada himself feels about “a bare-chested Sourav Ganguly at the Lord’s balcony”; why the entire Indian team was denied breakfast at their hotel on the day of the 2011 World Cup semi-final; of the 2009 KKR multiple-captain approach by John Buchanan; and many more.
Looking at the various chapters he has structured, it seems Boria has disclosed every single story he was aware of. It can be called the encyclopedia of Indian Cricket. However, with him, you never know. He must have definitely saved something for future releases. It is obvious that Boria is both passionate and knowledgeable about India’s biggest sport. It is his lucid style and ability to tell a story which makes this book even more worthy of reading. It can be passed across generations, as the inside story and politics of Indian Cricket.
In his epilogue, Boria closes with his encounter with a woman outside Eden Gardens in Kolkata selling candy. This was the same woman whom the writer had encountered many times before, while coming to watch cricket or Kolkata’s local league football. This time, it was outside an IPL match. The Billion Indians, such as her, are equally important as the Eleven Players, the Gods themselves, as neither can do without the other. And that is precisely the cause and effect of this masterpiece. Buy it, as a collectible – is my recommendation.
Krishnendu Aich is an ex-Bengal U16 and U19 player, a Calcutta University Blue and has played First Division CAB league for 14 years. He has also successfully led teams in Corporate T20 tournaments.