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Nine months to perfection!

Former cricketer Venkat Sundaram is doing in print what Sachin Tendulkar is busy doing live these days. That is laying out a cricketing exhibition. If you have missed the Tendulkar show on TV, take recourse to Venkat's Cricket Coaching Handbook. It is a handy tool, says ZIYA US SALAM... .


VENKAT SUNDARAM is back. Opening his account with a straight bat. Telling us all how to wield the willow, how to bowl the off-cutter, how to bamboozle the batsmen with a googly. Or even how to keep wickets. And few would disagree that this quite agreeable man is quite suitable for the task. Remember, he was the Delhi opener who always took the first strike for the State team when the likes of Chetan Chauhan, Mohinder Amarnath and Surinder Amarnath were donning the India colours. He also happened to be a member of the North Zone and Delhi teams that won the Duleep Trophy and the Ranji Trophy, respectively. Having played virtually against all touring teams, Venkat has also played as a professional in Australia and England.

Now this cricketer-turned-umpire-turned-coach and commentator is turning a new leaf. This time he has come up with Hero Honda's Cricket Coaching Handbook. The book, with a foreword by former India skipper Mansur Ali Khan Pataudi, endeavours to tell the youngsters in print what Sachin Tendulkar is busy demonstrating live from South Africa. It tells you some of the basic and many of the finer points of the game. Backed by pictures, Venkat begins by telling the youngsters the importance of stance, backlift, etc. With some visuals - many of them quite poor in printing though - for support, he makes his and readers' task easier. With the relevant parts of the pictures zoomed in, it is almost ideal for a little boy dreaming big but not knowing the path to stardom. Says Venkat: "A picture tells a thousand words. The idea is to make everything clear to a child reading his book."


Similarly, Venkat has dealt with the art of bowling and fielding in some detail. Where however he scores over other similar books is with the emphasis on fitness. He gets able help from visuals of Hero Honda's Team Ambition guys - Yuvraj Singh, Mohammed Kaif, Virender Sehwag, Zaheer Khan and Harbhajan Singh - working out in the gym to develop muscles of special use in their chosen craft.

The book, which took nine months in compilation, has been released now to capitalise on the World Cup euphoria. Says Venkat: "We had not planned it like this and intended to release the book by the end of March but by then the World Cup fever would have died down. So we decided to release it earlier. However, it is not a quick job. This book has a long shelf life."

He ends it all by reminding us all that one is always learning in this game. This is a subtle take on those cricketers who feel they have seen it all. Well, if you have seen, then look. And if you have looked, observe. Take this guideline along, it won't be a bad tool to possess. After all the man who expresses gratitude even to his dog in the preface, cannot take his readers lightly!

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