Tuesday, May 30, 2006

Dravid's biography - the worst ever?

I'm in the middle of reading "The Nice Guy who finished first" - Devendra Prabhudesai's biography of Rahul Dravid. It is, not to put too fine a point on it, a complete and utter waste of time. There is absolutely nothing in it that gives me any insight into the boy, the man, the cricketer, or even the game. The author has apparently gone through the scorecards of every game Dravid ever played, translated them into prose, and stuck in a few quotes from other published media sources. There is barely even an attempt to tie it all together, other than the mundane chronological procession that the reader is walked through. It ranks right down there with one of my greatest disappointments of all time - Viv Richards' autobiography.

Why is it that cricketers, and indeed most sportspeople, struggle to produce books worth reading? Their stories are at worst remarkable, and at best unbelievable, and yet so rarely does any of that come through, be it biography or autobiography. If I wanted to read the scorecards, I would do just that. Wisden has that one covered, both online (CricInfo) and offline (the almanack). I read these books to understand what made these men different. What made them tick. What is it that made them who they were. I know the facts. I want the story.

As I've often said, the best biography ever written, in my opinion, is Charles Williams' "Bradman" which tells the story of a man who united a nation, giving it hope and identity. The statistics are incidental. The man, and his story, are integral. And that's how it should be.

1 comment:

Old Spice said...

Nicely put. So many biographies of Cricketers wind up being huge disappointments.

Williams' Bradman is one exception. I enjoyed Arthur Mailey's 10 for 66 and All That, and, though I haven't started it in earnest, Simon Rae's W G Grace looks promising.

I don't know what Viv was thinking with his autobiography. It seemed more like he was having a personal conversation with his mates than anything else, and that certainly isn't the way to write a book.