I bought this book (The Insider - Decoding the Craft of Cricket) soon after its release mainly because I have been a fan of Aakash Chopra’s columns; and, not to mention, of his commentary, too. Unfortunately, I could never start reading the book immediately, and all for a long time it was sitting pretty on my bookshelf. However, I have read it now and I am happy to share my experience of the book.
Aakash Chopra is a familiar face in the commentary box. And, for those like me who follow cricket writings, would know Aakash can be trusted with his words too.
In his third book, The Insider, Aakash Chopra tries to capture the various nuances involved in the game of cricket: how players think, what goes into making great players, what makes a player successful, how a player fails. He has shed light on mind games that go on between players and teams. What factors determine a player’s form? How a player should prepare for Tests, ODIs, and T20s. How certain players are successful and how some players are not? Why most teams succumb under pressure?
These questions are very familiar and often discussed in cricket discussions and debates. However, there are no easy answers to these ones. Aakash has tried to answer all the questions with élan. While doing so, he has managed to keep the flow and the pace of the narrative smooth and unhindered. There is never a dull moment because the author, through his experience, has shared interesting anecdotes and trivia to make the chapters interesting. And has succeeded with flying colors.
In this book, Aakash has discussed, at considerable lengths, the rise of popular cricketers in this generation: their strengths, their weakness, how their mind works, the work ethics these great players follow, how they approach a big game, what makes them great, and what can young and aspiring cricketers learn from these greats.
This book is well suited for cricket addicts, aspiring cricketers, and people who want to learn various intricacies of the game. This book covers all angles of cricket—from how opening batsmen mentally prepare themselves before going out to bat to how bowlers visualize knocking the stumps of batters. That is where this book is a winner. Aakash takes you to a comfortable spot from where you can develop a different perspective about the game. He takes you to a point, which is beyond what meets our eyes.
Readers, as they complete reading the book, will have a lot of learning and may be look at the game from a different perspective and be little more sympathetic to players. Because they try hard, but there is only one winner in a game.
Given that Aakash Chopra is primarily a cricketer who switched to cricket commentary and writing after his retirement from the game, his writing is top-notch. We, at least in India, barring a certain Mr. Sunil Gavaskar, do not have precedents of a cricketer gaining success in writing after retirement. Sunil Gavaskar has authored four books until now; Aakash has three titles to his name. This is one record of Gavaskar’s, he would certainly like to break, and he has the time and merit on his side.