Saturday, April 30, 2011

Bat, Ball and Boundary - A Cricketer's Companion

Compiler:   Shelley Klein
Published:   2001
Publisher:    Michael O'Mara Books Limited
Hardcover: 180 Pages

Cricket over the years has become a very fast-paced, hectic and commercialized game. This anthology of  cricket writings takes you back to an era when it was a more leisurely sport. It has over 30 odd pieces spanning nearly 175 years (1807-1982) making a very delightful and interesting read for all the cricket lovers especially those in their 40s and above.

The authors featured in this anthology include  - Lord Byron, Anthony Trollope, Charles Dickens, E.W. Hornung, P.G. Wodehouse, Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, Neville Cardus, Don Bradman.

The three of my favorite selections from this book are:

1. A Bowler's Innings - E.W. Hornung (circa 1900) : A moving story about a dying bowler who was the most popular player doing his prime.
2. The Story of Spedegue's Dropper - Sir Arthur Conan Doyle (1929) : An amusing tale about a Tom Spedegue and his spectacular and unconventional bowling feats.
3. The Cricket Match (An extract from the book England, their England) - A.G. Macdonell (1933) - A hilarious account of a village cricket match.

 Extracts from some other pieces:

1. 'Life is  simply a cricket match - with temptation as bowler. He's the fellow who takes nearly every boy's wicket some time or other. You see every boy has three wickets to defend. The first is Truth, the second Honor, the third Purity.' - (From Baxter's Second Innings- Anonymous, 1892)

2. 'But one beauty of cricket is that, if you cannot play it, you can at least look on and talk very learnedly, and find faults with the captain, showing how you would order matters if you were consulted.' - (From Introduction to Richard Daft's Kings of Cricket, Andrew Lang, 1893).

3. ' Cricket is a very humanizing game. It appeals to the emotions of local patriotism and pride. It is eminently unselfish; the love of it never leaves us, and binds all the brethren together, whatever their politics and rank maybe. There is nothing like it in the sports of mankind.' - - (From Introduction to Richard Daft's Kings of Cricket, Andrew Lang, 1893).

4. 'Sometimes a conflict may arise between the desire to please the public and the need to adopt an unattractive or unpopular policy. It can be most disconcerting if the public is clamoring for action and the captain feels it necessary to instruct his men to 'dig in'.  It isn't always pleasant trying to please 50,000 spectators, fifty journalists and ten other players. Sometimes I think the public would do well to ponder that captains are normal,sensitive human beings, striving so hard to do the right thing. They are not a race apart. Public support is a great tonic when the going is hard.' - (From Farewell to Cricket, Don Bradman, 1950)

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