Book Review: Democracy’s Eleven by Rajdeep Sardesai

There are few things as quintessentially Indian as cricket. As a business with roots in both India and England this makes us delighted. An English sport, familiar on every village green across the Home Counties, is the national sport of India, followed and played by millions. Cricket is a symbol of the profound cultural connections between the UK and India, the same exchange of ideas that has made curry our national dish of choice here in the UK!

Democracy’s XI is the latest book to be published about Indian cricket, written by journalist Rajdeep Sardesai and published in Mumbai in October 2017. We were so impressed by the book that we have made it our recommendation for the MCC Cricket Book of The Year Award 2018.

The book tells the story of Indian cricket, from its origins in the British Raj to its status as a multi-million-dollar international sport today – focusing mainly on the period since the 1950s. In the earliest days, cricket was associated strongly with the British colonial class and the often autocratic Indian client princes. As such, it had only limited appeal among ordinary Indian people. When it was adopted by Indian teams, it frequently reinforced sectarian divisions rather than fostered unity, with separate cricket divisions for Hindu, Muslim and Sikh cricket players. It was these racist overtones that led Gandhi and other Indian independence pioneers to strongly condemn the sport of cricket.

Nevertheless, a remarkable transformation took place after independence. Cricket now represents the very best of modern India. It is a game that anyone can play, regardless of religion, traditional caste, regional origin or language. In the Indian cricket team, the son of a leading Hindu politician can play side-by-side with a Muslim kid from the back streets of one of India’s teeming cities – and they will be cheered on indiscriminately by millions of devoted fans from all walks of life.

Cricket brings people together in modern India, which is the main message of Democracy’s XI. While Indian politics, commerce and Bollywood are not immune from corruption and control by vested dynastic interests, cricket has become a meritocratic sphere. It has played a role like no other in breaking down the divisions between genders, communities and religious groups in India, while still allowing individuals to take a justified pride in their unique cultural heritage.




Title – Democracy’S Xi The Great Indian Cricket Story

Author – Rajdeep Sardesai

ISBN – 9789386228482

Price – £12.99




About The Author

Rajdeep Sardesai (b 1955) is a well-recognised face on Indian television as the anchor man of the India Today news channel. Democracy’s XI is his second international bestseller published in English. His first was 2014: The Election That Changed India, a first-hand account of the election that saw a momentous shift in Indian politics. Sardesai is an outspoken campaigner, speaking out in favour of peace and unity, and taking a firm stand against sectarian violence and division.

Target Readership

Democracy’s XI will appeal first and foremost to cricket fans, but also to anyone interested in the social history of contemporary India. People who are not familiar with India may underestimate the role that cricket plays as a social catalyst and unifying force. This book presents the full story in an engaging and light-hearted way that makes it a page turner from start to finish. The author presents the human story of the men and women who have shaped Indian cricket, and how it continues to fire the aspiration of Indian boys (and more recently girls) across the country.

Discover More Indian Books with Motilal Books

Democracy’s XI is one of over 15,000 books we hold in stock at our warehouse in the UK. Order them at attractive trade prices by calling 01727 761677. For more information about books on cricket or any subject please download our free e-book: The Independent Book Sellers Guide To Books From India, by clicking here.