‘Champs of Devgarh’ by Aditya Sharma follows the Star Eleven cricket team as they navigate through their lives at Holy Mission School in the fictional town of Devgarh, New Delhi. Needless to say, their lives revolve around their love of cricket and the bonds of friendship that the sport helps forge. The main players are Aakash, the good for nothing student who excels on the field and Ajay, the team captain, They are joined by the rest of the rag tag group and other colourful characters along the way.
The book definitely puts a smile on your face, as we see the young boys deal with the ‘big’ problems of life like raising money for new sports gear, exam worries, and having your heart broken for the first time.A clever move on the author’s part is having these experiences spread over a group of friends, thus allowing for each boy to learn his own life lessons while at the same time allowing for the other boys to interact as friends, advisors and even accomplices.
As a reader, there will definitely be a few incidents that are immediately identifiable, resulting in nostalgia for older readers and a connection with the pains of growing up for younger readers. Along with this, there’s a lot of play by play cricket commentary that is well written making it exciting to read, though it can tend to get too technical for non-cricket fans.
A slight matter that doesn’t detract from the charm of the story but would have definitely been a welcome addition would be the active presence of girl students from the school.
While girls are mentioned at various intervals, overall the book remains a ‘boy’s book’ that might alienate young girls with a passion for cricket who would love to read about other girls (yes, even fictional) who share their crazy love for the sport. This is, however a minor quibble as the the book is a wonderfully breezy read, tinged with the boisterous innocence of youth that is definitely a winner!