Coronavirus: 10 sports books to beat the lockdown blues

Struggling to get through the lockdown? Here's our pick of 10 classic sports books to keep you company through these diffficult times.

Hours of depression and solitude can be erased by picking a book even if it means a second or a third or a fourth read. So here's our pick of classic sports books to keep you company during this COVID-19 lockdown.   -  Vijay Lokapally

In times of Covid-19, books are perhaps the best friends you can bank upon to stay focused mentally. Hours of depression and solitude can be erased by picking a book even if it means a second or a third or a fourth read. Over the years, I have fortunately come to own a rich collection of books that relive hundreds of glorious moments from the history of sport.

From Sunny Days, which was my most prized possession — an autographed copy by Sunil Gavaskar in 1976 after standing in an unending queue to buy the book — to getting hold of 1949 edition of Jack Fingleton’s Brightly Fades The Don and Ray Robinson’s Wildest Tests, published in 1973, they are the best companions you can think of to keep you engaged indoors.

I have not included some great books like Beyond the Boundary (CLR James), Scribe (Bob Ryan), Footballers Don’t Cry (Brian Glanvie), Open (Andre Aggasi) and Close Of play (Neville Cardus) but the ten listed here are as good as any of the classics that don’t figure in the collection below. Importantly, I have picked these books keeping in mind their availability for online orders.

READ: Sportstar's all-time classics: Bindra's historic gold to Federer's epic Wimbledon win

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In Sunny Days, Sunil Gavaskar recalls the standout events of the first five years of his career.   -  Vijay Lokapally

 

Sunny Days by Sunil Gavaskar : A riveting autobiography that takes you on a thrilling journey. From the time Gavaskar was swapped with another baby at birth to his exceptional cricket journey which saw him aggregate 774 runs in his debut series against the West Indies in 1971. Published in 1976, it remains the highest selling sports book written by an Indian and it brings out the writer in Gavaskar as he recalls the standout events of the first five years of his career. In later years, he added Idols and One Day Wonders to his list of authored books.

Kindle edition available here.


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This is the Bible of cricket written by man hailed as the greatest batsman cricket has known.   -  Vijay Lokapally

 

The Art Of Cricket by Donald Bradman : This is the Bible of cricket. Published first in 1958, the contents remain relevant even in modern cricket where over-analysis leaves a cricketer under intense scrutiny. The author, hailed as the greatest batsman cricket has known, offers a veritable feast for the student of the game. The author teaches you the basics and the nuances of the game with the authority that decorated his cricket. He tells you the ideal way to play the game and this is a must in your library of cricket books, for those who play and those who follow.

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The book traces the author's time spent with Muhammad Ali, as he prepares for his epic 1975 bout with George Foreman.   -  Vijay Lokapally

 

The Fight by Norman Mailer : One of the finest sports books you can get to read. Twice winner of the Pulitzer Prize in 1968 and 1980, the author spends quality time with the legendary Muhammad Ali, including a late night run with the boxer, as he prepares for his epic 1975 bout with George Foreman in Kinshasa, Zaire. The book relives that fight for which the boxers each received five million dollars. The run-up to the fight and the aftermath is stunningly captured by the author with prose that leaves you in love with his style.

Get the E-book here.

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Garrincha takes you into the troubled world of one of football’s greatest players.   -  Vijay Lokapally

 

Garrincha by Ruy Castro : It is the research for the book that leaves you in a trance as the author recreates the magic that marked Garrincha’s style on the football pitch. It ranks as one of the finest biographies of a sportsman, detailing his rise and fall in a most poignant manner. Garrincha ruled the football world with his amazing individual skills and then bit the dust with his wayward ways. The author takes you into the troubled world of one of football’s greatest players. Was Garrincha a flawed sporting legend? Read the book to find out.

Get the E-book here.
 

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The Wildest Tests delves into 14 matches that hurt the image of the game at venues as diverse as Adelaide and Trinidad.   -  Vijay Lokapally

 

The Wildest Tests by Ray Robinson : One of the most engaging cricket books where the celebrated writer from Australia delves into 14 matches that hurt the image of the game at venues as diverse as Adelaide and Trinidad. Published in 1972, the book highlights the ugly side of cricket with hair-raising anecdotes from matches that he had access to. For Indian cricket fans, there are matches at Calcutta (1967 series against the West Indies), Hyderabad (1969 against New Zealand) and two matches of the 1969 series against Australia at Bombay and Calcutta when mob violence brought disrepute to the game.

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Jack Fingleton writes with breathtaking flair to present the best possible appraisal of a person he did not get along well with personally.   -  Vijay Lokapally

Brightly Fades The Don by Jack Fingleton : It is an all-time classic that presents a balanced portrayal of Don Bradman by a fellow cricketer. Fingleton figured in 18 Tests for Australia and spent considerable time with Bradman to assess the man and the cricketer. The beauty of the book, published after Bradman’s farewell series in England in 1948, is the author harbours no bitterness against the greatest batsman the game has known and concentrates on little known nuggets from his life. Fingleton writes with breathtaking flair to present the best possible appraisal of a person he did not get along well with personally.

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Autobiography of an Unknown Cricketer by Sujit Mukerjhee is a fascinating account of the author’s stints with cricket at various levels.   -  Vijay Lokapally

Autobiography of an Unknown Cricketer by Sujit Mukherjee : The last of his five books, this was published in 1997 and is acknowledged for his love for the game. It is a fascinating account of the author’s stints with cricket at various levels, including first-class. Cricket is not all about those who play at the international level and this book, as the author insists, is not about Test matches. The classic Beyond the Boundary by CLR James too did not talk about Test matches, says the author. It remains one of the finest tributes to those who serve the game at all levels.

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First published in 1949, Cardus on Cricket takes the reader into a glorious past when cricket was said to be played as it ought to have been.   -  Vijay Lokapally

 

Cardus On Cricket by Neville Cardus : The author is arguably rated the finest cricket writer. This is a selection of his cricket writings with a brilliant introduction by Rupert Hart-Davis. First published in 1949, it takes the reader into a glorious past when cricket was said to be played as it ought to have been. Cardus, who was also a music critic, was revered for his lyrical writing and his romance with the game stands out in this book which captures some of the best moments and characters of the game. It is one book which can be read, read and reread endlessly.

Get the E-book here.

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Published in 1998, The Beautiful Team narrates the story of the author’s trip to Brazil in search of Pele and the 1970 Brazilian side.   -  Vijay Lokapally

 

The Beautiful Team by Garry Jenkins : This may not be a classic of football writing but it is a one-of-its-kind for the subject the author chose to explore. Published in 1998, the book narrates the story of the author’s trip to Brazil in search of Pele and the 1970 Brazilian side. It takes you on a roller-coaster ride of a game in a country with surprises at every corner. Jenkins traces the heroes of that great team with some fascinating accounts that leave you craving for more.

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Rome 1960 gives a scintillating insight into the first doping scandal of an event which was the first commercially televised Olympic Games   -  Vijay Lokapally

 

Rome 1960 by David Maraniss : Relive the Olympics that changed the world. Winner of the Pulitzer Prize in 1993, the author wrote this masterpiece in 2008. The book documents in minute details some of the greatest sporting feats known to us and gives a scintillating insight into the first doping scandal of an event which was also the first commercially televised Olympic Games. It marked the arrival of boxer Cassius Clay, more famously known as Muhammad Ali. For Indians fans, the engrossing description of the 400m where Milkha Singh finished fourth, is the highlight of the book.

Available as an audiobook here.

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