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Salesman or Sportsman

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Sachin_Tendulkar_India_cricket_books_ControversyWriting a book? Create noise by creating controversy and your bank balance will rightly rise. Nothing sells better than a controversy. Every celebrity, be it an actor, sportsman or a businessman or even a no man has full rights to sell his/ her book, their version of truth as they say. But minus the sensational stuff in it, the book won’t sell as much as it would otherwise.

In case of sportsmen particularly, drug abuse, player bashing, run-ins with coach, family issues and critical remarks about federations sell like hot pancakes. Ask Adam Gilchrist, Andre Agassi, Shoaib Akhtar, Ricky Ponting, Roy Keane, Kevin Pietersen and the newly joined Sachin Tendulkar.

In recent memory, we haven’t seen or read an autobiography of a sportsman that has worked without releasing controversial events of their lives. The released excerpts actually refresh an old debate that was dead and buried ages ago. Till not spoken about it by the player, nobody gives two hoots about it.

Recently England cricketer Kevin Pietersen’s autobiography stirred up a cyclone in English cricket. Attacks and counter attacks went on, people may have sympathized or criticized Pietersen for opening a can of worms, but he laughed his way to the bank was the real fact.

Only when a sportsman sells controversy is when a sports lover or fan converts to a reader from a television viewer. All the jazz about holding the sanctity of dressing/ locker room code of silence goes for a toss. Commercial deals become priority.

And that’s where the problem lies. The problem with most of them is that the limited excerpts released for media consumption gives a wrong impression about the book. The book may have a lot more than that, something that happened with Shoaib’s book.

In fact Pietersen’s book also looks more about settling scores than giving an insight about his life and career. Anecdotes work big time too. But revealing about them is left for later. The book/ autobiography’s first point of contact with outside world should be impactful and that’s where controversy helps.

Coming to our demi-god Tendulkar’s revelations, there wouldn’t be any doubts about the man’s integrity and honesty. So probably what he is saying maybe the truth, but then saying that others (Gilly, Gibbs, Akhtar, Pietersen) who have stirred up controversies by dropping players and coach’s names can’t be called liars too.

Roy Keane in his updated biography has spoken about his declining relationship with Sir Alex Ferguson. Fact remains that Ricky Ponting’s controversial ‘At The Close Of Play’ sold more copies than Steve Waugh’s ‘Out Of My Comfort Zone’ because he took off on his successor Michael Clarke.

Perhaps the most compelling biography that I’ve read is that of Paul Gascoigne, ‘Gazza: My Story’. A flawed genius, he has admitted to all his wrongdoings, given such an account of his personal life that you actually feel his pain while reading it. In fact Agassi’s ‘Open’ also reads on the same lines where he talks (confesses) about a lot of things that he did which the world wouldn’t have known.

Tendulkar released his book with four of his illustrious star teammates with him on the dais on Wednesday and enthralled everyone with some anecdotes of his life as a player, as a husband, as a younger brother, as a ward. He definitely will be loved more as a human being than ever after this book release.

But then in his illustrious career lot has happened. Lot.

Selective mention and selective truth looks to work while writing autobiographies. He hasn’t mentioned, till now, much about what happened between him and childhood Vinod Kambli. He didn’t throw light on match fixing scandal that happened when he was one of the most influential members in the team.

Basically majority of the Sachin fans wouldn’t care much to know about these things, for them Tendulkar’s words are the gospel truth, how much ever selective, if at all, they may be. His interpretation of a particular situation is what we all will know and maybe believe till we die because he is our ‘God’.

God forbid if tomorrow Rahul Dravid or Sourav Ganguly comes up with their autobiographies and give a slightly contrarian view, what will happen in India? Another partition? Dravid or Ganguly will be labeled as liars? Or maybe they will never come up with one, Dravid won't, you can never predict what Kolkata’s prince may do.

Till then enjoy this book, the gospel truth from a sportsman turned salesman. But then which sportsman isn’t a salesman? Tendulkar can never be wrong, not in India ever. We all know it, but remember even he knows it.



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