The lessons in the book are gently suggested, as opposed to rammed down the throats of readers.

The lessons in the book are gently suggested, as opposed to rammed down the throats of readers.

Sachin Tendulkar, or Rahul Dravid? Five words, but with endless possibilities. This is not an attempt at comparing the merits and styles of two of India’s greatest batsmen. But if you had to relate to one of them as a batsman, which one would it be?

Tendulkar thrilled and exhilarated with his unique blend, Dravid evoked respect and admiration with his tenacity and strength of mind. Tendulkar awed you, Dravid made you feel you could do it too. Both based their cricket around simplicity, but Dravid’s was the simplicity that struck a chord – and this is said without any disrespect to either champion – because it felt doable.

In many ways, writing isn’t unlike batting. It requires the same strong foundations – in grammar and command over language, in this case – and must be used as a vehicle to express, not impress. As you read a book, any book, you don’t want to keep running to (or opening in a new tab) the thesaurus. You get sucked into the narrative, you feel like you already know what you are reading. But then you pause, and realise that knowing and practising are entirely different things.

If you are looking for bombastic language and colour and frills, 50 Not Out! will not oblige. But Harimohan Paruvu’s latest offering is a wonderfully easy read that makes you think. And then think again. A former Hyderabad fast bowler and a qualified civil engineer with an MBA degree to go with it, Harimohan was briefly chairman of the Hyderabad senior selection panel – one of the toughest jobs in Indian cricket, believe me – and is now a full-time writer and corporate/motivational speaker who uses his cricketing knowledge, acumen and experience to draw parallels with life as we live it.

As is self-explanatory, Harimohan dissects what he believes are 50 characteristics that are crucial to success in cricket, and by extension to life itself. Not one of those is a particular secret – not courage or honesty or earnestness, nor concentration, equanimity and resilience. But as we chase the larger dream, we often tend to ignore the smaller details. The phrase God is in the detail, attributed to mid-1880s Germany and since modified to the devil is in the detail, has to be pretty much the foundation around which every edifice is erected, but it is easy to lose sight of the basic little steps as one aims for the stars. Harimohan has made an honest, earnest and resilient effort – he is also a firm believer in practising what he preaches – to drive that point home, falling back on cricket, and his corporate and life experiences to make a compelling case.

When you identify and expand on a whopping 50 traits, it is inevitable that there are bound to be overlaps along the way, but that must in no way detract from the message that the writer is serving to drive home. Again, and at the risk of being repetitive, Harimohan hasn’t said anything that will make you sit up and take immediate notice. This is more a du Plessis compilation than a de Villiers blitz, which grows on you not when you read but as you introspect. The language is simple, the presentation functional, the examples relatable and the little additional elements in the form of Coach’s Corner, No Ball, Bonus Runs and Exercise impressive; together, they combine to deliver a strong core message that should immensely improve the quality of one’s life, and the lives of those around you, if you are so inclined.

Particularly for those in a team environment where personal ambition can often be detrimental to the interests of the larger group, 50 Not Out! is a must-read. Harimohan Paruvu might not be a household name, but if you dismiss what he has gently suggested – as opposed to vehemently ramming down your throat – to make yourself more relevant, personable and successful, no prizes for guessing who the loser will be.

50 Not Out! by Harimohan Paruvu
242 pages, Rs 250
Jaico Books
Rating: 3.8/5