Friday, 28 October 2011

Winter reading

The winter months seem cruelly long for a cricketer, and they're all the longer if, like me, you're a devotee of Test Match cricket and no amount of ODI yawn-a-thons will quite fill the gap left between the end of August and the middle of January by some idiot of a scheduler. So, the only thing to do (short of setting out for the southern hemisphere, which I can't afford) is settle into a comfortable chair with a good book.

As such there's a towering pile of cricket books for me to get through over the next few months, even before I get the inevitable extra book or two for Christmas. Here's a little list of what awaits me:

Recently completed:
...And then came Larwood, AA Mailey
This is a nice gentle blow-by-blow account of the 1932/33 Ashes series as it unfolded, from the point of view of Australia's recently-retired leg-spinner Arthur Mailey. He doesn't get too caught up in the controversy, and rather surprisingly he's very sympathetic to Jardine, admiring the freshness of his Bodyline tactics while at the same time pointing out how sparingly they were used, and how ineffective they became. Mailey's writing is jolly as ever, but I wish he'd covered a little more of the off-field drama.

Not quite finished:
Slipless in Settle, Harry Pearson
"A sentimental journey around club cricket in the north of England, a world far removed from the lengthening-shadows-on-the-village-green image of the summer game." This is a really excellent book and I don't quite understand how I haven't polished it off yet. I've only got 65 pages to go.

Bounce, Matthew Syed
This is a very interesting book which seems to debunk a few myths around natural talent versus hours of practice. I know of Matthew Syed from his writings in The Times and he's always been worth reading.

Peter Pan's First XI, Kevin Telfer
"The creator of Peter Pan, J.M. Barrie, was a hugely enthusiastic cricketer of very little talent. That didn't stop him leading perhaps the most extraordinary and comical amateur cricket team ever to take the field." An interesting tale of a kindred spirit, playing for fun in the Golden Age. Good fun.

Ashes to Ashes, Marcus Berkmann
Having read "Rain Men" (an uncomfortably familiar account of Berkmann's experiences as a club cricketer and cricket follower) I'm sure I should find this book to be an interesting read. It covers all the occasional triumphs and regular disasters of every Ashes series from 1972 to 2009.

A Last English Summer, Duncan Hamilton
"From matches played on a village green to the high-church splendour of Lord's, Duncan Hamilton preserves the 2009 cricket season, a seminal, convulsive time in the sport's history. In prose by turns reflective and glorious, he remembers all we have lost whilst displaying an overwhelming love for the game that stands out on every page." Looks like a "proper" cricket book, even if it may turn out to be a little too negative in its nostalgia.

Sweet Summers - The Classic Cricket Writing of JM Kilburn, Jim Kilburn et al
I had no idea who JM Kilburn was until I picked this book up after reading the review in Wisden. The articles are a nice short length which allows one to dip in and out at will, and so far the writing is of the most romantic type. A wonderful read if you like good, old-fashioned cricket writing.

The Autobiography of Neville Cardus
I saw this recommended on Cricinfo, so thought I'd have a look. I don't know much about Cardus but having read the introduction it promises to be an excellent read.

A Social History of Cricket, Derek Birley
My girlfriend keeps winding me up that cricket is an upper-class game, so this book was bought primarily to provide me the ammunition to refute this argument.

Wisden Cricketers' Almanac (1999 to 2009 inclusive)
I've amassed a modest but satisfying collection of Wisdens, and they're nice to have a little dip in to every now and then. Amazingly, when I received my second-hand copy of the 2000 edition I found that Gary Sobers, one of the five Wisden Cricketers of the Century, had signed his photo in the book!

1 comment:

Sid the Gnome said...

And when you need to write about county cricket and there's nothing going on ... blaaaah, right?

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