Cricket is more than just a sport – it’s a passion that has captivated millions of fans across the globe. From the thrill of the game to the rich history behind it, cricket has something for everyone. If you’re a cricket lover, you know there’s nothing like diving into a good book about your favourite sport. That’s why we’ve compiled this list of the top 8 books to read for every cricket lover. Whether you’re a die-hard fan or just getting started, these books will deepen your appreciation for the game and its players. So without further ado, let’s dive in!
Fire in Babylon
The West Indian side from the mid-1970s up until the early 1990s was probably the greatest cricket team of all time. It was a time when Michael Holding, Joel Garner, Colin Croft, and Andy Roberts, the fearsome foursome, terrorized batters worldwide. And it was when the great Sir Vivian Richards would take a hit from the feared Australian quicks on his chin without a flinch and hook the next ball for a six.
Then there was Clive Lloyd, the man who lifted the nation on his shoulders so much that a mere game liberated the Caribbean Islands from their dreadful past of slavery and colonialism. Fire in Babylon is an account of how the sons of cane cutters and farmers became the most feared force in world sport.
A Corner of a Foreign Field
Ramchandra Guha is one of the most authentic historians of our age. His love for cricket and history has resulted in one of the finest works of cricket history – A Corner of a Foreign Field. The book is an engaging and insightful account of the history of cricket in India, from its colonial origins to its status as a national obsession. Guha divides the account into three parts, each for a particular era in Indian cricket history.
The first part deals with the early years, the second the period between 1947-1980, and the third part discusses the rise of India as a globally dominant force. The book also explores major events in Indian cricket, like how cricket became a symbol of resistance to colonial powers and how IPL became a multi-billion-dollar juggernaut.
The Commonwealth of Cricket
The Commonwealth of Cricket is Ramchandra Guha’s yet another cricketing masterpiece. However, instead of overemphasising cricket’s history, this book explores the game’s cultural significance. Guha explores the influence of cricket in the Commonwealth, from its colonial roots to its current status as a global phenomenon.
From the early days of cricket in England to the current controversies surrounding match-fixing and player burnout, you live the cricketing ages through the book. The most interesting aspect is the exploration of cricket as a tool to reinforce colonial power structures, including the role of cricket in the struggle for independence in Commonwealth nations. Guha decodes how a simple game from England transcended cultural and linguistic barriers, shaping national identities across the Commonwealth.
Controversially Yours is a name befitting to the autobiography of Shoaib Akhtar, one of the most explosive cricketers ever. Like how he’d been in his playing days, the Rawalpindi Express has written an unapologetic account of his cricketing journey. It’s more than fascinating to know how a young lad from rural Pakistan became one of the greatest fast bowlers the world has seen.
Akhtar’s spicy relationship with India, which coincided with Indian cricket’s golden age, makes the book an entertainer. The former pacer highlights his struggle with injuries and controversial relationships with women. The memoir also delves into darker topics like match-fixing, politics in Pakistani cricket, and the murder of Bob Woolmer.
A Century is Not Enough: Inside the Mind of a Cricketing Legend
Sourav Ganguly is arguably the greatest leader of Indian cricket. From taking over the captaincy during a crisis to building the golden era for the country, Dada has done it all. Thus, the autobiography of the Bengal Tiger is a must-read for every cricket enthusiast. A Century is Not Enough gives us a peek into what it was like to integrate the young guns like Zaheer, Sehwag, Yuvraj, Harbhajan, Kaif, Dhoni, and Irfan, with the old guard of Tendulkar, Dravid, Laxman, and Kumble.
Likewise, we hear Ganguly’s side of the story in his ugly spat with Greg Chappell, the controversial Indian coach. We also glimpse what made Ganguly, a young Indian captain, confident enough to make the mighty Steve Waugh wait at the toss.
Cricket’s Greatest Rivalry: A History of The Ashes in 12 Matches
The Ashes is one of the most iconic competitions in world cricket. It represents a rivalry that began much before India vs Pakistan or Australia vs India became global attractions. England and Australia have fought for the tiny-looking Ashes Cup for over a century, making it the oldest rivalry across sports. Simon Hughes presents a brief and entertaining history of the Ashes from 1882 to the present day. Cricket’s Greatest Rivalry is a fast-paced account of a cricketing rivalry that almost seems like folklore.
The book tracks the decades of Ashes through the lens of 12 pivotal matches, discussing the backgrounds, temperaments, social contexts, and crowd atmospheres of each one. It’s almost like a historical war tale of shifting powers between two of the greatest cricketing nations.
For the past three generations of India, until 2011, the 1983 World Cup was a proud memory. Grandfathers saw it as a once-in-a-lifetime feat when India, an adolescent democracy, achieved something not many even dreamed of. For fathers, it created hope that their children could one day repeat the feat and realize world cup glory. And for the children born after 1983, the stories from the tournament inspired them to love and revere the game. Miracle Men by Nikhil Naz is reliving those memories, those stories that laid the foundation for the modern cricketing phenomena in India.
The book provides a detailed account of the Indian team’s preparation for the tournament, including the setbacks they faced along the way. It also offers fascinating insights into the key players on the team, including the legendary captain, Kapil Dev.
Bookie Gambler Fixer Spy: A Journey to the Heart of Cricket’s Underworld
While cricket may be our favourite gentlemen’s sport, it has a few ugly aspects too. Ed Hawkins provides a gripping account of elements such as illegal gambling and match-fixing that plague the game today. Bookie Gamble Fixer Spy also tracks the involvement of the underworld through fixers and bookies, who manipulate the matches and influence young players.
Hawkins notes the changing nature of the cricketing world, where corrupt officials and deprived social backgrounds foil the game’s credibility. The book also presents insights into the politics of match-fixing, spot-fixing, bookmaking, and their destructive impact on the sport.
What’s your favourite cricket book? Let us know in the comments below.
Noman Shaikh is the co-founder and editor-in-chief of Bombay Reads. He grew up in Mumbai, a city he loves more than any other, and currently works as a content consultant. His expertise lies in creating high-quality academic and marketing content in the form of blogs, articles, op-eds, etc. Noman has worked with reputed brands, including Economic Times (through Spiral Media), Coinbase (through MattsenKumar), AdEngage, Della Group, GBIM Technologies, VAP Group, etc. For his published portfolio, click here. Contact Noman on noman@bombayreads for engagement.