Book Review | Sultan: A Memoir

Book Review | Sultan: A Memoir
Sultan: A Memoir, co-authored by Gideon Haigh and Pakistan's cricketing legend Wasim Akram, is a riveting and heartfelt autobiography on the ups and downs of Akram’s life, both on and off the cricket field. The book is a must-read for cricket enthusiasts and anyone looking for an engaging and inspiring biography.

From his childhood in Lahore to his early days of playing street cricket to his meteoric rise to fame as one of the finest fast bowlers in the history of cricket, Akram's story is an inspiring one. The book covers the sultan of swing bowling’s rise to fame, his success as a bowler, his on-field clashes with opposing players and his captaincy of the Pakistani cricket team.

What makes this memoir stand out is the way Akram opens up about his personal life, including his struggles with illness, the loss of his father and his relationships. Akram’s candid and frank reflections are refreshing, and his honesty is both moving and inspiring. His life story is one of determination, perseverance, and resilience, which make his accomplishments all the more remarkable.

Gideon Haigh's contributions to the book should not be overlooked, as he has added depth to Akram’s story through the research and analysis of the cricketing world. Haigh's work presents a well-rounded and objective view of Akram's cricketing career, which adds a refreshing balance to the book.

One of the highlights of the book is the chapter that covers the 1992 World Cup final against England. Akram’s performance in the cup final, where he took two wickets in the final over, securing Pakistan's victory, is considered by many as one of the greatest performances in modern cricketing history.

The authors also explore some of the difficult and controversial elements of Akram's life, including his run-in with corruption allegations and his inability to secure a permanent position as the Pakistani cricket team’s coach. Sultan provides a valuable, nuanced portrayal of Akram as someone who is both human and flawed but also deeply skilled, talented, and passionate about cricket.

Akram’s story is also an insightful reflection on how sport, and cricket in particular, can provide a platform for community-building and national unity across social and cultural divides. His examples of how cricketers often represent their country, rather than just themselves, carries a lesson that extends beyond the sport of cricket.

The book's is smooth and well-paced, making it an engaging and effortless read. The authors manage to balance the technicalities of cricket with the personal elements of Akram’s story, resulting in a balanced and immersive account of his cricketing career and private life.

There are times when the book could have provided more depth and detail on some of the events in Akram’s life, but this is a minor issue. Overall, Sultan holds a reader's attention well, with the authors successfully weaving together Akram’s life story, his achievements in cricket, and his personal reflections to create a compelling memoir that reflects the complexity of a life lived both in and out of the public eye.

The book is not just for cricket fans. While cricket is the centerpiece of Akram's story, there is a universality to his experiences that transcends the boundaries of sport. Akram’s at-times uncertain journey of balancing his personal and professional life is one that readers from different walks of life can relate to.

Lastly, the book offers an insight into the nation of Pakistan and its identity, history, and values. Through Akram’s story and his experiences, the authors make a compelling case for Pakistan as a dynamic nation with a rich culture and history, even as they highlight the nation's various complexities and challenges.

In short, Sultan: A Memoir offers an inspiring, honest, and evocative insight into the life of one of the greatest cricketing legends the world has seen. The book’s crisp storytelling, analyses of the cricketing world, and Akram's personal reflections all come together to create a memorable and inspiring account of a life well-lived.

Regardless of whether one is a cricket fan or not, this memoir will leave the reader with the impression of an individual who has accomplished much and shown determination and resilience in the face of adversity.

The writer is a senior correspondent at The Friday Times with a focus on politics, economy and militancy. He also hosts the Hassan Naqvi Show on Naya Daur.