| OUT OF MY COMFORT ZONE |
By Steve Waugh
Price: Rs 895
In most cases, autobiographies are like a retirement bonus: celebrities, politicians, business leaders and public figures who have reached the point of no return, churn out an account of their life and times, hoping sale proceeds will add to their superannuation nest egg. In Steve Waugh's case, whatever he earns from this massive tome will be richly deserved. This is the cricketer they called "The Iceman" for his temperament, inscrutable visage and single-minded determination, once he was captain, to mould the Australian team into one that would dominate world cricket. That he succeeded, and the way it was achieved, forms the core of this biography, but Waugh was such a widely respected man that there is clearly more heft to this book than its mere weight and size.
| PICTURE SPEAK |
|LAST HURRAH: Waugh waves goodbye to his fans |
Apart from his views on cricketers he played with and against, this book is essentially about leadership. Moulding a motley team of 15 into world-beaters may not sound like much compared to corporate leaders, but the lessons, at a subliminal level, are pretty much the same. It all comes down to motivation, leading by example and ruthlessness. What made Waugh special was that he was one of the few cricketers who made an extra effort to explore the culture and experience the reality of the country they were visiting.
It perhaps explains Waugh's choice of Rahul Dravid to write the foreword to his biography rather than some Australian sporting legend. Dravid admits that he has learnt much from Waugh and he is a man he has tried to emulate because he "gave grit a good name". Dravid's description of Waugh as being "an interesting man who has lived an interesting life: a man of cricket but not just of cricket", is why this biography lifts itself above the run-of-the-mill "My cricketing years" variety.
For cricket fans, this book has a wealth of anecdotes and inside information on the trials and tribulations involving overseas tours, the controversies that shadow modern cricket, the pulls and pressures of team selection, the challenge of balancing a normal family life and marriage with the constant travelling and the relentless media glare. Like the famous tattered red handkerchief he carried as a talisman, this book has lots of strands that make for fascinating reading. There are his reactions to the match fixing scandals, and the related accusations against brother Mark and Shane Warne and details on what transpired.
Naturally, being an Aussie, the Ashes was the Holy Grail but there is a larger picture being painted here which revolves around the issues and personalities that make cricket a source of such endless fascination. More important, however, are his views on success and failure and what it takes to survive at the highest levels.
The style is typical of the man, cold, hard analysis tempered with a dry sense of humour. "We thought he (Mark Greatbatch) was an evenly balanced guy with chips on both shoulders." He admits that the tag of "The Ugly Australian" was partly deserved because their style of cricket "bordered the fine line between gamesmanship and sledging", and offers valuable insights into the Australian method of selection, pay scales, the role of the coach and that of the captain. His views on the latter should be required reading for all contemporary cricketers.
Waugh is one of the few cricketers who is actively involved in charitable work-at Udayan in Kolkata among children of leprosy victims and the Steve Waugh Foundation in Australia. These have enriched his life, broadened his horizons and helped shape the person he is today. This is one of cricket's most entertaining and incisive biographies, and it would do a world of good if fellow Aussie Greg Chappell made this required reading for the Indian team. Getting out your comfort zone is the difference between great cricketers and the impostors. That remains the moral of Waugh's story and what separates this autobiography from the rest.
| TOP 10 BEST SELLERS |
A monthly national list of bestselling books compiled for India Today by ORG-MARG based on data from 15 retail outlets in six cities.
|Title ||Author || |
|1. (-) || |
One Night @ the Call Centre
|Chetan Bhagat ||Rupa |
|2. (1) ||Shantaram ||Gregory David Roberts ||Penguin/Little Brown |
|3. (2) ||Five-Point Someone ||Chetan Bhagat ||Rupa |
|4. (3) ||The Alchemist ||Paulo Coelho ||Thorsons/Harper |
|5. (4) ||The Da Vinci Code ||Dan Brown ||Double Day/Corgi |
|1. (1) ||The Monk Who Sold His Ferrari ||Robin S. Sharma ||Jaico |
|2. (12) ||The World is Flat: A Brief History of the Twenty-First Century ||Thomas L. Friedman ||Allen Lane |
|3. (11) ||Two Lives ||Vikram Seth ||Penguin/Viking |
|4. (2) ||The Argumentative Indian ||Amartya Sen ||Allen Lane |
|5. (3) |
|Freakonomics ||Steven D. Levitt ||Allen Lane |
OTHER INDIAN BOOKS IN THE TOP 20: FICTION
|8. (6) || |
Shalimar the Clown
|Salman Rushdie ||Jonathan Cape |
|10. (8) || |
The Hungry Tide
|Harper Collins |
|11.(7) || |
The Inscrutable Americans
|Anurag Mathur ||Rupa |
|12.(-) || |
The Red Carpet: Bangalore Stories
|Lavanya Sankaran ||Review |
|8. (8) || |
Who Will Cry When You Die? Life Lessons You Learn From the Monk Who Sold His Ferrari
| Robin S. Sharma ||Jaico |
|16. (-) || |
Climbing the Mango Trees
|Madhur Jaffrey ||Ebury Press |
|18. (-) || |
|Pawan K. Varma ||Viking/Penguin |
* Last month's rating in brackets
Participating bookshops: Delhi: Om Book Shop, Faqir Chand, Teksons, Full Circle; Mumbai: Crossword, Shah Book Stall, Danai Book Shop; Bangalore: Fountainhead, Gangarams; Hyderabad: Walden Book Store, The Book Point; Kolkata: Oxford Books, Modern Book Depot, Family Book Shop; Chennai: Fountainhead