Saturday, December 03, 2011

Sphere of Influence by Gideon Haigh: A Review

By John Cheeran
What do you write, when you write on cricket? You write about riveting games, entertaining characters, game’s fault lines, leave out the scoreboard but paint the big picture.
Gideon Haigh, the Australian cricket writer, has put together a collection of writings on cricket and its discontents – Sphere of Influence. Simon and Schuster India has published the book. So, who will be interested in reading the stuff?
The book suffers from the fact that there are hardly any new essays in this. Much of what figures here have been published by and easily trawled on the Internet. And most of the other observations published elsewhere are dated. Haigh is not a stylist so that one can return to this collection and savour it in bits and pieces.
There is nothing new now when you say that India is the new power centre in world cricket and the white half of the sphere of influence does not relish this change. We all know that.
Followers of the game in the subcontinent would relish the portraits of Javed Miandad, Mutttaiah Muralitharan, Kapil Dev and Sachin Tendulkar that feature in the Giants of Asia section. Again, all are taken from Haigh’s scrapbook.
On the brighter side, Haigh raises some interesting questions such as how to save one-day internationals. He would like to rename ODIs as one-day Tests: limited overs, unlimited in scope. Captains would be free to use bowlers when and as often as they wished, and place fielders anywhere they pleased, with a limitation only on boundary riders in the last five overs.
But Haigh rightly points out that such suggestions would not be appreciated by the International Cricket Council. He writes: ”The idea of making anything look more like Test cricket is simply too counterintuitive for cricket’s governing classes.”
And in another essay, A Modest Proposal, Haigh wants the Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) to cede control over the IPL and the Champions Trophy to the ICC so that the traditional monopoly of the official game is restored. Would that proposal come about had the Australian Cricket Board invented an APL and turned it to a success story?
Certainly, we are going to miss Peter Roebuck.

Title: Sphere of Influence
Author: Gideon Haigh
Publisher: Simon & Schuster India
Price: 399

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