Another century, another list – the intelligent fan’s guide


In the final century, cricket author A A Thomson gave this recommendation to a good friend who requested which ten books he ought to begin a cricket assortment with: “Any eight by Cardus.” What about this century? I shall borrow from Thomson and begin by saying, “Anything by Gideon Haigh…”

Three private favourites are Stroke of Genius: Victor Trumper and the Shot That Changed Cricket, a few participant, a single stroke, a historical past of the sport and what it means to folks, id and extra. Mystery Spinner is the story of Jack Iverson whereas Silent Revolutions is a pleasant assortment of Haigh’s journalism. Haigh’s secret has been identified for a while. He brings to his journalistic items the identical self-discipline, managed depth and authority that he shows in his books.

For the remaining titles, I’ve divided the books into 5 broad classes: Concerning India, biographies and autobiographies, historical past, problems with the sport and anthologies.

Ramachandra Guha’s A Corner of a Foreign Field introduced Indian cricket writing into the 21st century, weaving collectively many threads — historic, biographical, private, political, cultural, philosophical — in a vibrant, unique sample. Prashanth Kidambi’s latest Cricket Country, the well-researched story of an Indian workforce’s first tour of England in 1911 sits comfortably alongside it, another fantastic instance of a scholar turning his consideration to cricket.

Pundits From Pakistan, written a decade and a half in the past on the Indian workforce’s tour of Pakistan stays contemporary and reaffirms that its writer, Rahul Bhattacharya is one in all the most interesting cricket writers wherever.

Among efforts by gamers, there’s Aakash Chopra’s debut Beyond The Blues and its companion, Out of the Blue. The diary of a season, after which the story of Rajasthan’s maiden Ranji Trophy triumph are narrated with an empathy few gamers carry to their writing.

The ultimate alternative is James Astill’s The Great Tamasha, a narrative of Indian cricket with all its chaos and mismanagement. “There’s great passion for cricket in this country,” the late Tiger Pataudi informed Astill, “but little knowledge.”

Opening up

Knowledge comes by means of in Michael Atherton’s Opening Up, by a sportsman with the uncommon high quality of self-awareness. Perhaps there’s something about opening batsmen — Chopra was one — for my subsequent alternative is Marcus Trescothick’s transferring, candid story of his despair in Coming Back to Me, which introduced psychological points out in the open.

When Jack Fingleton first met Don Bradman, the latter corrected his pronunciation. The relationship by no means improved. The story is informed in George Growden’s The Man Who Stood Up to Bradman. The well-known Bill Woodfull quote in the dressing room throughout Bodyline (“there are two teams out there; one is trying to play cricket, the other is not”) was leaked to the press. Fingleton was accountable, in accordance with Bradman. No, it was Bradman himself who leaked it, Fingleton all the time insisted and offered the clues.

Cricket: The Game of Life by Scyld Berry, ex-editor of Wisden and the doyen of journalists is a paean to the sport by somebody near it in each sense.

The historical past of Pakistan cricket, The Unquiet Ones by Osman Samiuddin is an account by an insider who had the benefit of distance, whereas The Fire Burns Blue, the story of girls’s cricket in India is a lovingly constructed historical past by Karunya Keshav and the late Sidhanta Patnaik. Bodyline Autopsy by David Frith would possibly nicely be the ultimate phrase on the topic, it’s that complete.

A examine of cricket suicides

Frith additionally wrote Silence of The Heart, a examine of cricket suicides. It tries to reply the query: Are cricketers at larger danger of suicide, and if that’s the case why? The conclusion is probably not scientific, however the analysis and the narration — two Frith specialties — are spectacular. Mike Brearley, who wrote the foreword to that e-book, examines along with his normal mixture of authority and profundity the query of kind in cricket in On Form. There is width in addition to depth right here.

Malcolm Knox’s Never a Gentleman’s Game is a reminder that the sport has seldom been pure. Most of the maladies afflicting the sport as we speak have an extended historical past, and this e-book is beneficial to those that suppose match-fixing started at the flip of the century. To be learn with Simon Rae’s story of “skullduggery, sharp practice and downright cheating in the noble game”, It’s Not Cricket.

The century’s most unique e-book analyses its most unique format, the T20. Cricket 2.0 by Tim Wigmore and Freddie Wilde takes us the place cowl drives and cruel pulls usually are not as vital as the information they offer rise to. The IPL is now not “cricketainment” however a enterprise enterprise the place the pc is king and the number-cruncher is coach. An interesting have a look at a format we’re nonetheless coming to grips with.

Finally, the anthologies. Frith, Atherton, Richie Benaud, Brearley have all had their journalism put collectively in books. Picador Book of Cricket by Ramachandra Guha stands out right here. The Meaning of Cricket by Jon Hotten is a delight. The subtitle — How to Waste Your Life on on Inconsequential Sport — says all of it.

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