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The Great Tamasha Cricket, Corruption and the Turbulent Rise of Modern India by James Astill

The Great Tamasha Cricket, Corruption and the Turbulent Rise of Modern India

Part of the Wisden Sports Writing Series
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Winner of the Cricket Book of the Year at the British Sports Book Awards 2014.

The Great Tamasha is the story of modern India told through the glitzy, scandalous and mind-blowingly lucrative Twenty20 cricket tournament, the Indian Premier League. The IPL - merging the three forces of politics, business and Bollywood - has transformed cricket and transfixed India like nothing before it.


The Great Tamasha Cricket, Corruption and the Turbulent Rise of Modern India by James Astill

On a Bangalore night in April 2008, cricket and India changed forever. It was the first night of the Indian Premier League - cricket, but not as we knew it. It involved big money, glitz, prancing girls and Bollywood stars. It was not so much sport as tamasha: a great entertainment. The Great Tamasha examines how a game and a country, both regarded as synonymous with infinite patience, managed to produce such an event. James Astill explains how India's economic surge and cricketing obsession made it the dominant power in world cricket, off the field if rarely on it. He tells how cricket has become the central focus of the world's second-biggest nation: the place where power and money and celebrity and corruption all meet, to the rapt attention of a billion eyeballs. Astill crosses the subcontinent and, over endless cups of tea, meets the people who make up modern India - from faded princes to back-street bookmakers, slum kids to squillionaires - and sees how cricket shapes their lives and that of their country. Finally, in London he meets Indian cricket's fallen star, Lalit Modi, whose driving energy helped build this new form of cricket before he was dismissed in disgrace: a story that says much about modern India. The Great Tamasha is a fascinating examination of the most important development in cricket today. A brilliant evocation of an endlessly beguiling country, it is also essential reading for anyone who wants to understand the workings of modern India. Winner of the British Sports Book Awards Cricket Book of the Year 2014.


'Astill has written a fascinating book about cricket, which sent me scurrying to Wisden to check Tiger Pataudi's Test batting average ... But he has also written a serious book about India whose problems are illuminated through an extended treatment of the national sporting obsession' Philip Collins, The Times

'Ambitious and excellent . Astill is a lean and elegant writer ... He is acute in observing how differently Indian and Pakistan fans relate to their cricketers . above all, The Great Tamasha is a cricket-lover's book' Gideon Haigh, The Cricketer

'A clear-sighted and superbly researched study of cricket in India . Politics in democratic India, Astill observes, is feudal, corrupt and vindictive , and the administration of cricket is no more than an aspect of politics ... Astill seems to have talked to everyone who is anyone involved in this deeply unattractive business' Sunday Telegraph

'An enchanting as well as enchanted passage through an India that has turned what was once an English summer game into a multi-million dollar national entertainment ... Astill is a storyteller, and what sets The Great Tamasha apart from the usual cricket literature is the seamless blending of politics, sociology, economy and sports history in a narrative enriched by drama and delightful set pieces' S. Prasannarajan, India Today

'Engaging, perceptive and rigorous . The Great Tamasha tells a fascinating story well. Anyone interested in India, or cricket, and most certainly both, will enjoy it very much' Jason Burke, Observer

'What makes Astill's book exceptional is his first-hand reporting . We meet powerful Indian politicians from Sharad Power, who aspired to be prime minister and headed international cricket, to residents of Dharavi in Mumbai, one of the biggest slums in Asia' Mihir Bose, Independent

About the Author

James Astill

James Astill is the political editor of The Economist. He was formerly the newspaper's South Asia Bureau Chief, stationed in New Delhi 2007-2010. He has also worked as the newspaper's defence editor, energy and environment editor and Afghanistan correspondent. He has won several journalism awards including America's Gerald R. Ford Prize for Reporting on National Defence, the Grantham Prize for Excellence in Environmental Reporting and a Ramnath Goenka Award for writing on India.

Author photo © Bloomsbury Publishing Plc

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Book Info

Publication date

27th February 2014


James Astill

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Wisden an imprint of Bloomsbury Publishing PLC


320 pages


Sport from the Armchair
The Real World
All Shortlists and Winners
eBook Favourites
eBook Favourites

Social & cultural history
Asian history
21st century history: from c 2000 -



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