I’m pleased to announce the release of my second book on on cricket–‘the game, not the animal, or the cartoon character’: Eye on Cricket: Reflections on the Great Game (HarperCollins, 2015; online sale point in India here). This brings together a collection of essays based on my blogging over at ESPN-Cricinfo–over the past six years. (These essays are not mere reproductions of those posts but significant extensions, revisions, and reworkings.)
Here is the cover:
Here is a foreword by Gideon Haigh, cricket’s pre-eminent historian:
I suspect that Samir Chopra and I were born to at least correspond. His blog profile lists as his interests ‘cricket, free software, military history, military aviation, hiking, tattoos, industrial music, travelling’. I don’t necessarily share those interests—although the military and musical tastes overlap—but they are interesting, and he brings to his cricket writing the sort of well-stocked and free-ranging mind ever in short supply.
Cricket bloggers have a tendency to come and go, say what they have to say, and move on. Samir, I think, gets better and better. I enjoy his style of taking a stray or miscellaneous pensée, then comparing and contrasting, unpicking and elaborating, until a surprisingly rigorous argument has been constructed and a provocative conclusion reached, whether it’s that Andy Flower had a nerve asking India to withdraw its run-out appeal for Ian Bell at Trent Bridge in 2011, or that Fire in Babylon was frankly overpraised—views I happen to share, although that is less the point that Samir makes such trenchant yet civil cases. They are like watching cricket with a thoughtful and challenging companion. Perhaps these are the conversations Samir would like to have had with someone at a Test match, but, alas, has had to conduct with himself in his self-imposed east-coast American exile. If so, we’re fortunate that he’s condemned to partake of his cricket by the interwebs in splendid isolation, as he describes in another lovely cameo here.
There was a lot that set me nodding in Eye on Cricket, in recognition and assent. Yes, sport is grossly overstuffed with martial imagery; yes, I also tend to appraise every library by what is on the shelves at 796.358. Being one himself, Samir understands the ‘playing fan’ and the vernacular cricketer with great acuity. ‘No game, no physical or cultural endeavour, can survive or be sustainable if held aloft only by the efforts of those most proficient at it,’ should hang in a gilded frame in the office of every cricket administrator. I revelled in cricket-nerdish references to a light appeal by Sew Shivnarine, and to ‘Kirti Azad’s Finest Hour’ too. I’d read many of these pieces previously, yet was struck by how well they cohered in this collection—it was almost as though Samir had been unconsciously working towards this totality all along. I am surprised only that he has never written anything about Jade Dernbach. After all, it would bring together two of his interests. Over to you, Samir.
Here is the jacket description:
In Eye on Cricket, Samir Chopra, a professor of philosophy and a long-time blogger at ESPNcricinfo, offers us a deeply personal take on a game that has entranced him his entire life in the several lands he has called home.
In these essays, Chopra reflects on a childhood centred on cricket, the many obsessions of fandom, the intersection of the personal and the political, expatriate experiences of cricket, historical regrets and remembrances, and cricket writing and media.
Nostalgic, passionate and meditative, Eye on Cricket is steeped in cricket’s history and its cultural significance, and reminds the most devoted spectators of the game that they are not alone. It shows how a game may, by offering a common language of understanding, bring together even those separated by time and space and culture.