Tuesday, 9 June 2009

The Cricket Captains of England

The problem with choosing books to read about cricket is that there are so many good ones it can be difficult to know where to start. Even discounting the kind of ghosted autobiographies that give ghosts a bad name, there are still too many crickets books worth reading.

Often it is the ones you least expect that are the best. My favourite cricket book of all time until a couple of days ago was The Fast Men by David Frith, which I picked up for 10p at the Hilly Fields Summer Fayre in 2003. Sample sentence: 'Among the last of the truly fast roundarm bowlers was the Rev. Robert Lang, who sat batsman atremble in the late 1850s.' A genuine, solid-gold, copper-bottommed classic.

However, the mantle has now been passed. I would like to take this opportunity to recommend The Cricket Captains of England by Alan Gibson. From the very first page it is obvious that Gibson is no conventional cricket writer - after a quote from Horace, he tells us that the first English sporting team to tour abroad was to the Arctic Circle in 1586, but 'unfortunately no detailed results survive, as although there were newspapers then, they did not run to sports correspondents.'

Both books are essential when building your cricket library (as John Arlott would surely have said).

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