Fandom: A Writer and A Reader

A writer and a Reader. Delan Adikari's Review of Wind Behind The Willows.

I was eagerly awaiting to read “Wind Behind The Willows” after seeing the publicity for its launch in Sri Lanka with one of my heroes, Roshan Mahanama. I am grateful to the author that a friendly debate on Twitter with him about match-fixing enabled me to finally find a way to read the book; facilitated by Anila in Melbourne, who was lovely to meet too.

Anyways, it was well worth the wait. Brilliant and I loved it. A great detailed insight into the thoughts and experiences of an ardent cricket fan. I can see why it has received great reviews and shortlisted for literary awards.

Although the author says he’s just a fan, I think there’s a little more. Given his experience as an administrator and great contacts. But a fan nevertheless.

The title is very good and clever. I did have a few people seeing me reading it in public (like on the train) enquiring whether I was reading “Wind in The Willows”. The chapter titles are also clever and witty. I do like the subheadings too.

There were some stories that I was getting into and then it would suddenly go slightly on a tangent to explain something and then come back to the original story. That was ok. Although, I did re-read 1 or 2 of these just to remember the original discussion. Nevertheless, the way it had been done, adds great, detail background and explanation to the subject or topic.

The contents are thorough and make the reader wanting to read on, which is what you ideally want from a book. However, I did stick to my usual one chapter per day as I do with most books. Hence it took a bit longer to finish.

I loved the suggestions to improve the game in general and also enhanced facilities for fans. Yes, even on “fixing”, lol!

I got lots of emotions from the description of both cricket and travels to various destinations. Firstly, there are stories that leave you in awe or even slightly envious like being at the 1996 World Cup Final. Then there are accounts that bring back memories of a venue or a particular match. For example, Lord’s, or the Mathews-Malinga MCG Miracle. And of course, there were some that left me wanting to visit a particular place or do a particular activity in the future.

I loved the suggestions to improve the game in general and also enhanced facilities for fans. Yes, even on “fixing”, lol! On the subject of fixing and other controversies, I can see the author expressing opinions or mentioning things heard or seen without full accusations as there might be legal ramifications without solid proof.

The World Test and ODI teams chosen look great and have my vote.

I am curious though to know what happened in the 2003 World Cup, as it has received only a brief mention. Did the author consider going to that event too and for some reason backed-off? Would love to hear his thoughts on some of the selections in that tournament . Also, about Sri Lanka’s unexpected loss to Kenya, including the captain doing the opposite at the toss to what apparently was decided in advance with the team management.

I would also like to know his thoughts on the influence of player managers, like Charlie Austin, etc.

Well done on compiling such an excellent book and thanks for sharing the tales.

Obviously, with such a book I learnt a lot more about the author and a few other cricket personalities such as the Dharmadasas and Roshan Abeysinghe. It was nice to take the accounts of events narrated in the book and piece them together with what others have said and what I have experienced, to build a larger overall picture.

Throughout the book, the author has raised issues about Sri Lankan cricket and how to tackle and address them. Guess, since the time of writing there is a whole lot more and those original ones have grown bigger!

The author was spot-on about Sri Lanka as a team generally being loved and appreciated around the world for their exciting and positive brand of cricket; like the Windies and their calypso cricket, yesteryear. Sadly, some controversies in later years have spoilt that image. This year alone, Sri Lanka have had more than its fair share of unsavoury stuff.

We rarely find everyone satisfied 100%, when expressing an opinion on anything. Having said that, I pretty much agree with the vast majority of the book’s contents.

Well done on compiling such an excellent book and thanks for sharing the anecdotes.

Cheers – Delan

(Delan Adikari, a biomedical scientist living in Melbourne; is a traveller, wildlife and sports fan, especially a passionate cricket lover. He tweets @delan82)

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2 Comments

  1. Hi Delan, many thanks for your feedback.

    Just a small note on your queries:

    I had a few work-related issues in 2002-2003 and due to that, the 2003 World Cup received my least attention. However, I know what’s in your mind. Sanath J was the captain!

    In terms of player managers (agents), I think they play a significant role in any sport. They help players obtain the best deals possible, off the field. They also enable players to focus on the game, by relieving them of nitty gritties involving their commercial and social obligations to a great extent. These obligations and contracts are part and parcel of professional sportspersons globally. They help to sustain the players’ present and future financial security, in careers that may turn out to be shorter than expected.

    The more professional player managers, like Charlie Austin, contrary to what some say (mostly due to jealousy), act in the best interests of the player on the one hand and not forgetting the larger interests of the nation and the game on the other. I think the players that he has managed have benefited. Example, Mahela and Sanga have been with him for nearly 17 years and that reflects the mutual trust and respect.

    Best – Ranjan

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