August 2015 By TA Balasubramiam Can the game of cricket be an enduring metaphor for valuable life lessons? 50 Not Out! by Harimohan Paruvu, Jaico Books, Paperback, INR 250, 242 pages “Whether you are preparing for success, dealing with people, uncertainty or stress – knowing your (game of) cricket helps … I help senior executives seek solutions to corporate situations through cricketing principles, tactics and strategies. I use the cricketing analogy extensively in talks, workshops and training sessions”. That’s the unique perspective that runs through this fun-filled compilation of 50 lessons (hence the title) packed into Harimohan Paruvu’s scintillating book. A seasoned Ranji Trophy cricketer, he spins extensively from his experience of the game to share practical insights and bowl many googlies into all kinds of life and health situations. He peppers the book with many instances of inspiring cricket performances by stalwarts like Kapil Dev, Sachin Tendulkar, and Maninder Singh Dhoni to drive home lessons about a wide range of topics such as creativity, team spirit, honesty, equanimity, responsibility and humility. In these 240-odd pages, he outlines what he describes as a “celebration of the game of cricket” with a wry note that“any learning emanating from it is a complete bonus for the reader.” That’s a refreshingly underplayed stroke that I do not agree with – there is plenty to learn in Paruvu’s exploration of the possibilities of an extended gaming metaphor. However, this is not a collection of boring homilies to be learned or practised. Rather, it is a book that you can dip into for a quick and tangential idea or two that could be used to add wit or wisdom to any situation you are stuck in. I found many of the analogies – on creativity, attitude and communication for instance – useful to add as examples to my repertoire of teaching for my workshops oninnovation. Paruvu’s 50 thought-provoking lessons are couched in cricketing principles that most of us would be familiar with – Honesty (Play with a straight bat); Perseverance (The match is not over till the last ball is bowled); Justice (Howzzat) and so on. The fact that India is a nation of cricketing fanatics goes a long way to help the author build the metaphorical lessons here. We are so steeped in the language of cricket that the terms don’t need to be explained. Each of the short (4 to 5 pages) lessons follows a structure – an introductory inspiring quote, a short elaboration of the topic with an example from a cricket incident or story, a summation (called Coach’s Corner), a cautionary note (called No Ball) and a closing note (called Bonus Runs). Also included at the end is a short exercise that you can do to apply the lesson in your life situation. This is a way to build recall of the lesson and help you put it into practice – a virtual workout, or net practice, to use a cricketing analogy! If you enjoy cricket and like the idea of a book of tips that fuses cricketing lore with useful life lessons, this book is just right for you. It includes many startling parallelisms and serves as a compact and light-hearted handbook to put you on a good wicket, no matter which bouncer you are facing!
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