Shadows across the Playing Field tells the story of the turbulent cricketing relations between India and Pakistan through the eyes of two men – Shashi Tharoor and Shaharyar Khan – who bring to the task not only great love of the game but also deep knowledge of subcontinental politics and diplomacy.
Shashi Tharoor, a former UN Under-Secretary-General and man of letters, is a passionate outsider, whose comprehensive, entertaining and hard-hitting analysis of sixty years of cricketing history displays a Nehruvian commitment to secular values, which rejects sectarianism in sport in either country. Shaharyar Khan, a former Pakistan foreign secretary, is very much the insider, who writes compellingly of his pivotal role as team manager and then chairman of the Pakistan Cricket Control Board at a time when cricket was in the forefront of détente between the two countries. By the time the book was published Shashi Tharoor had won the election from the Thiruvanathapuram Constituency and had become a member of Parliament and Minister of State for External Affairs.
In their essays, the two authors trace the growing popularisation of cricket from the days of the Bombay Pentangular to the Indian Premier League. They show how politics and cricket became intertwined and assess the impact it has had on the game. But above all the book is a celebration of the talent of the many great cricketers who have captivated audiences on both sides of the border. If politics and terrorism can at times stop play, the authors believe that cricket is also a force for peace and they look forward to more normal times and more healthy competition.