In recent years I have become more and more interested in Twenty20 (T20) Cricket, especially with the availability of the Indian Premier League (IPL) and Australian Big Bash League (BBL), as well as the occasional broadcasts of the Caribbean Premier League (CPL). I, like many people of my age, do not often watch any other forms of cricket, a topic covered in some parts of this book. In All That You Can’t Leave Behind Bhattacharya has written a homage to cricket from the viewpoint of a spectator and cricket lover first, and a journalist second.
Throughout this book Bhattacharya writes of his love of cricket, reminiscing about India’s successes (and failures), and the way cricket has changed over the years that he has been watching it. India is the nation that has been effected the most by the changes in viewership of cricket, making millions out of the IPL and as such being able to influence the International Cricket Council an amazing amount. With brilliant use of wit, personal experience and knowledge, combined with facts and figures, Bhattacharya has created a succinct tale of modern Indian cricket, whilst also showing the socioeconomic situation of one of the worlds emerging powers.
I found this book fascinating because it so clearly shows the generation gap between those who have grown up enjoying Test match cricket, Bhattacharya himself was born in 1969, and those who have been lured in by the glitz and glamour of T20 cricket, such as myself. This book may be a few years old, yet it is still relevant as a historical account of late 20th Century and early 21st Century cricket. I think that although Bhattacharya may lament the recent decline in popularity of Test cricket, he feels that due to the cycles he outlines in the book, the ‘patterns that we fans love so much’, Test cricket may rise again. One of the brilliant things about this short book is the obvious love and passion for the sport. There is no us vs them attitude about Test cricket vs T20 cricket, but an understanding that they are two divergent parts of the same sport, and their differing spectators may eventually come to love them as separate sports.