Today is the start of a new series of blogs which I call “Reading with Rahul”. In this series of blogs I will be reviewing cricket books straight after I read them which means this will be dependant on my reading speed (don’t worry, I am quite fast!) . These cricket book reviews range from a large variety of new and old cricket books each just as unique as the other. The aim of this blog series is to provide an unbiased and impartial opinion on some of the best cricket books going around (without giving too many spoilers) and for some, give an entry into the wonderfully diverse world of reading through the gateway of the gentlemen’s game . Enjoy!
“Dhoni finishes off in style!” declared the commentator” A magnificent strike into the crowds, India has won the world cup after 28 years!”.
These immortal words lit the flame for an incredible eruption of celebration and fervour in India as the country was submerged in jubilation and unparalleled euphoria.
Amid the ecstasy of India, it was the end of a road for 2 men. One of these men was Paddy Upton, the barefoot coach…
Along with Gary Kirsten, Paddy Upton, India’s mental conditioning coach, carefully cultivated an honest and open environment in which players could thrive and prosper. This environment became the understated secret to India’s victory as it allowed big egos and personalities ,such as Sachin Tendulkar, Gautam Gambhir(more on him later), Shanthakumar Sreesanth and Virender Sehwag, to collaborate together and become a unit to be reckoned with. Paddy Upton was the father of this prosperous environment but that was only a brief snapshot of his cornucopia of knowledge…
The barefoot coach is a book that has the same qualities as the values Paddy Upton instilled upon the Indian team and the same values he instills upon himself: openness and honesty. Paddy Upton shows in his book that he is the type of man who is brave enough to accept his mistakes and this can be a very scarce trait among many autobiographies as they tend to be very reluctant to accept their mistakes which can often detract from the truth-full tone to the book.
While maintaining directness and honesty, this book provides an informative insight into Paddy’s ideology on the environment of a sports team. Without giving away too many spoilers, Paddy Upton’s simple but essential coaching mantra is “if you keep the players happy, they will play well for you”. He goes into much further detail in the book as he underlines what makes a successful team and explains the intricate nuances of man management thoroughly. These 2 polarising qualities give the book a multi dimensional complexity and depth which often is not achieved in autobiographies and sets this book apart from the rest.
In addition to incorporating two contrasting tones effectively, the book adds to it’s versatility by covering a vast range of scenarios and different phases varying from the world cup campaign to his coaching mantra but it also covers the evolution of the man as his job description and characteristics have changed over the course of his illustrious career.
We often talk of character development in fiction novels as a way to engage the reader and give a personable and relatable tone to the novel. Despite this being a fiction technique, character development is used in the barefoot coach(non intentionally of course) as the book hones in on the various metamorphisms of Paddy the man and the coach.
From starting out as the first professional fitness trainer in cricket to obtaining mastery in the fine art of sports psychology and masterminding the team environment of the victorious Indian team. Not to mention, his sudden rise to head coach of the Rajasthan Royals and despite the critics, he has really come into his own as a world class coach and now coaching many franchises across the world. This book clearly narrates the steep rise of the man who is now one of the most decorated and successful coaches in the world.
However, if there is a slight downfall from the book, it would be the fact that the book doesn’t explore the more technical side of the game and does not go into much detail about the matches that Paddy has witnessed from the dressing room. However, this is not Paddy Upton’s area of expertise as he is much more knowledgable in sports psychology. The point I am trying to make is that if you solely read autobiographies for a coach or player’s insight on some of the best matches they have played and witnessed, this probably is not the book for you but this however is just a minuscule blemish on an otherwise flawless painting.
In summary, I believe that the most commendable quality of this book is the fact that it enlightens the mind about man management, a skill desired in all walks of life: from corporate companies, to schools and etc, the world is a place that demands high man management qualities. This means that this book, unlike all other cricket books, can be read by absolutely anyone.
That is why I have come to the conclusion that I recommend this to anyone in facilitating role in any field and looking to hone their man management skills and not just people who who love the gentlemen’s game . This book can also be read by those interested in the intricacies of sports psychology and how an healthy dressing room environment is grown.These multiple and equally varied distinctions is what elevates this autobiography above others.
If you think you will enjoy the book, here is the link it on Amazon.