If writing a book could be compared to batting in a cricket match, Anindya Dutta would probably be at 314 not out. Launched at the Oxford Book Store in Park Street, Kolkata last Sunday, Spell-Binding Spells for Dutta began from the suggestion of a fellow cricket writer who read his article on a series of bowling spells and sensed there could be a book in it. Hesitant at first, Dutta, a well-known contributing author to portals like Cricinfo and Sports star, has managed to combine a stellar list of individuals who have put their heart out with the ball in the gentleman’s game.
In an age when cricket is heavily biased towards batsmen, the book jots down tremendous bowling performances condensed together in 314 pages of a walk down memory lane. Combining detailed statistics and a masterful narrative technique, Spell-Binding Spells, through its anecdotes, creates an experience like you are present at the venue.
As former Indian cricketer Deep Dasgupta put it, “There is something artistic, poetic and romantic about cricket that we are losing and that is where this book comes into the picture. When we read about history we read about the romance, we rejuvenate the love for the game.”
And who better to write the foreword than a batsman for a book that dedicates itself to men with the long strides. “Who would be better than a batsman to appreciate a bowler and what he does and who better than the artist VVS Laxman himself”, said Dutta.
Present at the launch on the evening of the last day of a tumultuous Test Match between India and Sri Lanka, Laxman took the crowd back to the Test Match at the Feroz Shah Kotla where he watched on from short leg as Anil Kumble breathed fire. For Laxman, Kumble was destined to achieve that remarkable feat — all 10 wickets in a test innings. “It was a tough time for Anil because he was not a conventional leg spinner but sheer hard work, perseverance and determination made him special.”
Sublime with bat and words alike, Laxman, when asked about his 281 at the Eden Gardens, said that the match was special to him for a number of reasons — his record partnership with Dravid, Sachin and Harbhajan’s amazing spells and the overall energy of the team. Those things made not only the match but the series a landmark in Indian cricket history.
Written in a lucid language, Dutta’s Spell-Binding Spells is a must read for cricket lovers. The narratives, comparisons and incidents will draw readers of all age groups. Although the editing is a slight let down, the book doesn’t fail to achieve what it was set for.