The Great Tamasha: Cricket, Corruption, and the Turbulent Rise of Modern India [NOOK Book]

Overview

To understand modern India, one must look at the business of cricket within the country.

When Lalit Modi--an Indian businessman with a criminal record, a history of failed business ventures, and a reputation for audacious deal making--created a Twenty20 cricket league in India in 2008, the odds were stacked against him. International cricket was still controlled from London, where they played the long, slow game of Test cricket by the old ...
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The Great Tamasha: Cricket, Corruption, and the Turbulent Rise of Modern India

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Overview

To understand modern India, one must look at the business of cricket within the country.

When Lalit Modi--an Indian businessman with a criminal record, a history of failed business ventures, and a reputation for audacious deal making--created a Twenty20 cricket league in India in 2008, the odds were stacked against him. International cricket was still controlled from London, where they played the long, slow game of Test cricket by the old rules. Indians had traditionally underperformed in the sport but the game remained a national passion. Adopting the highly commercial American model of sporting tournaments, and throwing scantily clad western cheerleaders into the mix, Modi gave himself three months to succeed. And succeed he did--dazzlingly--before he and his league crashed to earth amid astonishing scandal and corruption.

The emergence of the IPL is a remarkable tale. Cricket is at the heart of the miracle that is modern India. As a business, it represents everything that is most dynamic and entrepreneurial about the country's economic boom, including the industrious and aspiring middle-class consumers who are driving it. The IPL also reveals, perhaps to an unprecedented degree, the corrupt, back-scratching, and nepotistic way in which India is run.

A truly original work by a brilliant journalist, The Great Tamasha* makes the complexity of modern India--its aspiration and optimism straining against tradition and corruption--accessible like no other book has.

*Tamasha: a Hindi world meaning "a spectacle."
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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
In this pensive work—at turns historical, sociological, and journalistic—the Economist’s South Asia bureau chief, British journalist Astill, examines the beloved game of cricket in India. Cricket was introduced there by British soldiers and sailors in the 18th century, and it was taken up by the growing Indian middle class as the very “caricature of Englishness,” especially by the Parsis of Gujarat, who made their fortunes in Bombay. Cricket clubs sprang up in the Victorian era, and tournaments were played with the British and also with incipient Muslim clubs. Astill looks at some of the legendary players, such as the late-Victorian batsman Ranji (the first great Indian cricketer to play for England), and he studies how the makeup of Indian teams began to reflect a changing India with the inclusion of Dalit and Muslim players. The World Cup victory in 1983 put Indian cricket in the spotlight, and the 1990s were an era of commercial explosion: players got rich and rivaled Bollywood stars, games were being fixed, and the Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) was challenged by the inventive upstart Indian Premier League (IPL). Yet in the end, as Astill graciously describes, cricket inspires in the poorest of India’s poor “a dream of advancement and leisure”—not to mention the marvelous entertainment it provides. (July)
From the Publisher
“The Great Tamasha is a book of breadth rather than depth. It buzzes with field trips and brisk interviews that sometimes bring insight, and more often momentum and freshness…His depiction is close-up and entertaining.” –New York Times Book Review

 

“Ambitious...The combination of reporter’s notebook, sporting history and a descriptive style makes The Great Tamasha compelling reading.” –Financial Times

 

“A stirring study by an enthusiast of the game.”–Kirkus Reviews

 

“Pensive… at turns historical, sociological, and journalistic.”–Publisher’s Weekly

 

“As Jacques Barzun said about understanding America through baseball, so Astill’s book gives an insightful take on modern India.”–Booklist

 

“Peppered with star-studded interviews and transcripts of historic matches, Astill's history is a boon for any fan of cricket or interested bystander. Combining supple narrative and hard-hitting journalistic styles, his prose is a pleasure to read, with frequent wry humor bringing tears to the eyes.”—Shelf Awareness

 

"Energetic reporting and a fluent grasp of history…a compelling rendering of a cricket-mad country."

New Yorker

Kirkus Reviews
The Economist's South Asia bureau chief finds the game of cricket a telling metaphor for what ails and heals the new India. Cricket has functioned as a tool to both institutionalize India's caste system and break it. From a quintessentially Victorian gentleman's game, cricket was first adopted by the Brahmin class of Zoroastrians from Gujarat, and prosperous merchants, who started the first clubs in Bombay. From Hindu clubs to Muslim, Astill sees cricket's subsequent growth across India as "unplanned, organic and almost exclusively on sectarian lines." Even the positions on the team formed along class lines: Gentleman batted, and working men bowled. Early Indian princes captured the public's imagination; by the time of Indian independence, cricket had not only been firmly institutionalized, but it had taken on a highly theatrical quality. Yet partition proved a blow to Indian cricket, as the best bowlers were absorbed by Pakistan. The bitter India-Pakistan rivalry precluded meeting on the cricket field between 1952 and 1977 (and again after the Mumbai attack in 2008). The rise of corporate patronage vastly changed the game, as did the association with Bollywood celebrity. The slow-moving matches on which Ashis Nandy's The Tao of Cricket (1989) were based were already giving way to a shorter, faster game after India's 1983 World Cup victory, inviting new money, TV sponsorship, corruption and match-fixing. Astill traces political and corporate infiltration of the game, such as by the powerful Sharad Pawar, International Cricket Council boss, and Lalit Modi, creator of the glamorous, shaky Indian Premier League. Alternating with his prodigious research, the author chronicles his passionate watching and playing of the game, from city green to slum, finding among the lowest castes an admirable motivation and "remarkable consolation." A stirring study by an enthusiast of the game.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781620401231
  • Publisher: Bloomsbury USA
  • Publication date: 7/9/2013
  • Sold by: Barnes & Noble
  • Format: eBook
  • Edition number: 1
  • Pages: 304
  • Sales rank: 628,347
  • File size: 3 MB

Meet the Author

James Astill is the political editor of The Economist. He was formerly the newspaper's South Asia Bureau Chief, stationed in New Delhi 2007-2010. He has also worked as the newspaper's defence editor, energy and environment editor and Afghanistan correspondent. He has won several journalism awards including America's Gerald R. Ford Prize for Reporting on National Defence, the Grantham Prize for Excellence in Environmental Reporting and a Ramnath Goenka Award for writing on India.
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