Guha is a particular type of fan: catholic in his admiration of cricketers; internationalist in his outlook; and inclusive in his taste. His deep knowledge of the game allows him to bring a historian’s perspective when writing about players. Here is Guha on the Pakistan cricketer Inzamam-ul-Haq: “It has always seemed to me that the relationship of Inzamam-ul-Haq to Sachin Tendulkar was similar to that of Wally Hammond to Don Bradman… Tendulkar remained the greatest cricketer of his age. Inzy had to be content with being the Walter Hammond of his day.”
The Commonwealth of Cricket is part celebration, part elegy, but before all else unashamedly the book of one of those tens of millions of India’s cricket fans. Ramachandra Guha is an historian, environmentalist, journalist and political biographer of wide-ranging distinction, but save for a dismal-sounding phase in his Marxist twenties, when E.P. Thompson edged out the cricket writer A.A. Thomson in his pantheon, cricket has been his obsession and the cricketers of his youth — Viswanath, Prasanna, Chandrasekhar and the ‘Sardar of Spin’ and most combative of them all, Bishan Bedi — his earliest heroes.