Tell all tales

The market for sports memoirs that reveal big bad secrets is large. India's greats should join the game

Revelations of infidelity, a marriage to a former Playboy playmate and hints of why a relationship with Chris Evert ended on the cusp of marriage, days after both won Wimbledon in 1974, make The Outsider: A Memoir, by tennis's original bad boy Jimmy Connors, a strong contender for every bestseller list. There seems to be a thriving market for sports autobiographies, such as the one by the eight-time Grand Slam winner, that offer a peek into the dark side of fame. The readers are lassoed in as publishing houses follow one basic rule: controversy equals moolah.

If Andre Agassi risked being stripped of a few Grand Slam titles for his crystal meth revelations in Open, then Herschelle Gibbs's memoir, To the Point, turned into his cricketing obituary as his story threw unflattering light on the cliques in the South African side on the field and the orgies off it. Closer home too, scandals have helped sell even poorly written sports autobiographies. Pakistan fast bowler Shoaib Akhtar's Controversially Yours clogged the coffers with his admissions of ball tampering and claims of smelling fear as Sachin Tendulkar walked out to bat. The big question, then, is: why haven't some of India's greatest sportspersons resorted to the same technique to confess their sins while fattening their wallets?

Some like Tendulkar and Leander Paes are still active professionals and the repercussions of such tell-alls could be disastrous. But many have nothing to lose. Five years have passed since Sourav Ganguly retired from Test cricket. Yet, his version of the Greg Chappell saga remains untold. Did he truly chicken out of playing on those green tops? Similarly, it's been long since Rahul Dravid called it quits. But the answer to who really declared with Tendulkar on 194 in Multan seems to be buried with his career. Could it be because a long time has passed since they were newsmakers? Probably not. Connors, after all, is 60, has been inactive for 17 years and still makes eyes roll with an affair that ended nearly 40 years ago.

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