Written by Jatin Paranjape and journalist Anand Vasu, the book chronicles the story of renowned cricket coach Vasoo Paranjape, the captain of Dadar Union and a former Ranji Trophy player. It has essays by Sachin Tendulkar, Sunil Gavaskar, Rahul Dravid and other cricketers, big and small. It speaks at length about Vasoo’s passion for the game, his abilities as a talent-spotter and nurturer and his indelible impact on cricketers, past and present, with his sage advice.
He was instrumental in giving Rohit Sharma his first break and had predicted early on that Anil Kumble would do more with the ball than the bat. It was Vasoo who gave Gavaskar the name ‘Sunny’.
To begin at the beginning, Vasoo began his innings in the reserves in 1953 for Dadar Union and took the club to the pinnacle of glory by the early 70s. He touched the lives of many cricketers and in the words of Ajay Jadeja, was never bound by issues of language, region and country.
The book opens with a heartrending account by his son Jatin, of how Vasoo, in the late 70s, was hit by a bouncer in a match and had three of his teeth knocked out. Despite blood oozing from his mouth, he declined all assistance and gamely launched a superb counter-attack against the opposition.
Then there is an endearing account of the man by his wife Lalita Paranjape. How Vasoo loves Australian cricket, their positive approach and Sir Donald Bradman is his God. He is also a big fan of Sir Garfield Sobers, Vinoo Mankad and Sir Frank Worrell, reflecting his aggressive approach to cricket. Vasoo always played to win, as was evident from his shocking declarations as captain of Dadar Union. But he never flouted any rules and played the game in the right spirit.
Sandeep Patil writes fondly about how Vasoo was instrumental in arranging a meeting with Patil's to-be-wife Rupa in the balcony of Vasoo's home in Matunga. All of which served to clinch the match. His advice to Sandeep before he left for the 1980-81 Australian tour: “Sandy, Watch Lillee closely for the first 30 minutes. Believe me, he’ll be watching you for the rest of the day.”
Equally inspiring is Ramesh Powar’s account of how Vasoo encouraged him during the most difficult period of his life. He was dropped from the Mumbai U-19 team and Police Gymkhana team, had lost his father, had to move out of their government quarters and was contemplating taking up a government job. For him Vasoo was not just a guru but a guiding light.
TA Sekar, the pace bowler who went on to found the MRF Pace Foundation recalls how Vasoo kept talking to Ian Chappell and Dennis Lillee about cricket till the wee house of the morning at the Park Sheraton Hotel in Chennai.
Cricket Drona offers a comprehensive account of Vasoo Paranjpe, the fan, the person, the player, the captain and the coach. It is a nostalgic read for all fans of Mumbai cricket and fans of the game in general. Go for it!
Book: Cricket Drona: For The Love Of Vasoo Paranjape
Author: Jatin Paranjape, Anand Vasu
Publication: Penguin Ebury Press
Pages: 256 Price: Rs 499
(The writer is a former R&D scientist, a sports, music and travel enthusiast)