Will Australia beat India?
Will they even play each other???
1949: the Australians have thrashed the Poms in England, India has played its first Testseries in Australia, and the Don has retired.
Not much has changed in India, except that Ranganathan has a dream, and embarks on a journey that might culminate in one of cricket's greatest, but least-reported, matches.
Along the way, Ranga finds support for his dream from all quarters, including a retired British General, an All India Radio star, and, of course, his mentor (late of the Punjab).
His journey takes him from Bangalore, through a host of railway towns (most of which he doesn't see), to Bombay's famous Taj Mahal Hotel and the sea voyage to Australia, where he meets – well, the top of cricket's mountain. But that's only the beginning of the cricket.
Then come quite a few things that puzzle and, finally, the great game.
I loved this book Review by Ashleigh Parkinson
Ranga Plays Australia was a great book to read. I loved this book because I like the type of book about dreams.It was a great story and Im looking forward to reading more by the same author. (Posted on 18/08/11)
Narration has been superb as well as interesting Review by S. K. Bandyopadhyay
Ranga Plays Australia is a bold attempt by Ian Burns, which narrates an imaginative story of a cricket match played by school boys from India travelling all the way to Australia in 1950. This book will attract the interest of anyone who likes to play cricket. Interestingly, the book is not a simple imaginative story but carries an inner line of thought in bringing two countries of different cultures trying to make some very difficult thing happen.
The book has been able to take readers to the year 1950, when India was still in the grip of rural life and the whole world was recovering from the devastation of World War II. The narration is vivid throughout.
The names of some of the boys surprisingly match with the cricketers who later played for India, helping us to believe that the cricket match had actually been played.
Every narration chosen by Ian has remained very interesting, sometimes thought-provoking, but with practical reality. His literary skill has been excellent throughout the book, especially blending of the two cultures, Indian and Australian, and finally leading to an interesting cricket match between the boys of the two countries.
The story starts with a small village boy, Ranga, who loves playing cricket and also knows a little about Indian cricketers like Hazare and Mankad. Like any other boys he has some knowledge of Australian cricket and legendary cricketers like Don Bradman. Ian's description of Ranga in an Indian village environment, its life and cultures, is really astonishing. He carefully adds to the story describing an Indian school, the teachers, the school boys, and their feelings. He has aptly chosen some of the Indian mythological stories or folk tales, adding more interest to children as they read the book. The example of referring to Mother Lalla or the mythological demon are some of the interesting passing descriptions in the book, which are capable of exciting children to know more about these characters, without losing the main theme of the book.
The author has been able to give a vivid description of life in an Indian village and its surroundings. Kumar definitely brings out the true description of Indian teachers, whereas Harkishen Singh, a friend, philosopher and guide always tries to promote the interest of Ranga. The description of the word “Goodonyamate” is hilarious and definitely adds more humour in the story. The chapters on Niamong build up the idea of inviting the Indian boys to play in Australia. There is good humour throughout the book, without having any kind of unrealistic description.
The book brings a tremendous credit for an Australian writer, which clearly depicts the enormous study Ian has made about India and its customs while writing the book.
The development of the story is maintained throughout, till the final cricket match is played. Interestingly, the author has made the game a bit more unconventional than the normal cricket match – making different kinds of rules of the game which add further interest in keeping a reader fully absorbed while reading the book. The quiz at the end gives a brain-teasing exercise for anyone who wants a challenge.
The author probably could have given a little more attention to the almost impossibility in those days to visit a country like Australia.
Inclusion of a few pictures of 1950s in Australia could have added interest.
The book is very interesting, and Ian’s style of narration has been superb as well as interesting for readers of both countries. Ian has shown his mastery of describing the feelings of children and their dreams in simple and superb English. (Posted on 18/08/11)
Sparkle of freshness and simplicity Review by Neil Thomson
This delightful story comes with a sparkle of freshness and simplicity and the reader will be left wondering how much is fact and how much is the imagination of the author. Nonetheless, the reader will burn with a self satisfaction that he has indeed had a pleasurable journey. The simple honesty of the characters mixed with the time honoured belief that “anything is possible”, leads us to travel with Ranga (as part of his team) on a journey that will enthral, amuse and at times have you relishing in a sentimentality that we all share when an unlikely hero is given a ‘leg-up’, just because his dream is a worthy one. Ian Burns has brought together the magic of a boy’s dream, historical features that may otherwise simply vanish, and a true “good feel” story that is interwoven with humour and spun in a simple easy going style that makes this book hard to put down. (Posted on 18/08/11)