BENGALURU: Ashis Ray is well-known for being a cricket commentator and made his debut at 24 as a test match commentator with All India Radio, in 1975. His love for the sport runs deep and even materialised into a documentary, 1983: India’s World Cup, which was shortlisted for a BAFTA nomination as well. His latest book, Cricket World Cup: The Indian Challenge, looks at the history of the Indian team’s performance in the World Cups so far and discusses its winning prospects in the ongoing tournament. Excerpts from
What was your trigger for writing the book Cricket World Cup: The Indian Challenge?
I have a rare advantage of being witness to all World Cups other than the inaugural one. I had the privilege of commentating on the 1983 competition from start to finish - a turning point for India and the world in limited overs cricket. Therefore, to write a history of the tournament was a natural progression. I wanted to share my enriching experience with cricket lovers.
With the digitisation of books, have you moved to reading books on screen or do you prefer the old-fashioned books?
I do both. But I derive greater satisfaction from reading in print than on-screen.
Do you go back to your old writings? How does it feel to re-read what you had written sometime back?
I have been writing for newspapers since 1975. I am afraid I haven’t been very good at maintaining a
record - which in any case would run to tens of thousands of pieces.
What is the process you undergo while writing?
An article is written as per the deadline. A book I tend to work on in a concentrated manner. I am capable of reeling off 5,000-10,000 words in a day when in the mood.
How difficult or easy is it to get published? Have you had to modify or change the content
of any of your books for it to get published?
Fortunately, it hasn’t been very difficult for me to get published. I don’t think I’ve had to make any material changes to my manuscripts. But I believe in listening to editors in case they have a good suggestion. In the present instance, the chief executive of Bloomsbury asked me to add a preview of the upcoming World Cup as a final chapter. I was happy to comply.
Who’s your first reader? And who are your biggest critics?
This depends on what the subject is. I would generally get an expert to give it a read. Your well-wishers are often your best critics. A good review from a respected publication is, of course, always gratifying.
Do you think marketing plays an integral role in the success of books?
Marketing is certainly integral to the success of a book. You can write the best book in the world, but if potential readers are not made aware of it, it’s a wasted effort. Therefore the effort of a publisher is crucial.