Tag: Books to read at the cricket

Books to read at the cricket? The Price of Fish by Ian Harris and Michael Mainelli

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Books to read at the cricket? How to Lie With Statistics by Darrell Huff

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Books to read at the cricket? Herding Cats: The Art of Amateur Cricket Captaincy by Charlie Campbell

Wormsley Cricket Ground, ‘Words and Wickets’, Actors v. Authors, 2014
The steward in hi-viz races towards me in disbelief as I stroll towards the pavilion in vest, shorts and flip-flops. His disapproving roar has blown over the deckchairs reserved for bums clad in mustard cords.

Edwardian writes

Charlie Campbell is the captain of the Author’s XI. I’ve seen these roosters a couple of times at the Wormsley ‘Words and Wickets’ festival.  In 2014 there was a tent displaying the latest Jaguar cars and the food was provided by Jamie Oliver. I marvelled at the burgers which were about half the size of a cricket ball. We brought our lunch with us.

Campbell’s book is an entertaining foray into the joys and headaches of captaining an amateur side.  I thought about an in-depth review then thought better of it.  While leaning on Brearley’s book, there are many funny anecdotes involving the Authors.  Campbell side-steps names until the end of the book but his XI have featured Sebastian Faulkes (you know the chap, he writes in French for the hell of it then transcribes it all back into English and apparently has time for cricket), Ed Smith, Tom Holland and other scribblers.

Maximilian Hilderbrand favourably reviewed Herding Cats in Literary Review but mentioned from his own experience a batsman who scored a ‘sumptuous half-century’ while high on magic mushrooms. I’d like to hear more from Max. The review in The Cricketer was a bit more guarded.

I enjoyed the book a lot.  It’s a great insight into managing the Authors.  However, I have to say that a part of me wondered whether the book would have been published at all if Campbell wasn’t a literary agent and connected to all the right people. Despite Campbell’s occasional protestations at how difficult it all is, the acknowledgements could be summed up by John Le Mesurier, “It’s all been rather lovely.”

Herding Cats on Amazon.

Have you tried to read summat while at a cricket match? Let us know how it went at king@kingcricket.co.uk


Books to read at the cricket? Iphigenia Among The Taurians by Euripides

Ged writes:

Plays are generally quite good for reading during a day of county cricket. It doesn’t take all that long to read a play. In my case, this means I get to see cricket, read a play, do some general reading (e.g. from The Economist and/or The Week) and have time to do some socialising too.

In the spring of 2006, I was contemplating trying to write a second play before really having a go at amending my first one. Seeking ideas for underlying plot structure and devices, my mind turned to Greek drama, which I hadn’t really looked at since school. I bought a clutch of cheap paperback collections, one of which was Bacchae and Other Plays (Oxford World’s Classics), a collection of Euripides’s dramas including Iphigenia among the Taurians – click here for Wikipedia entry (which contains spoilers).

On 8 June 2006 I ventured to Southgate, to see Day Two of Middlesex v Yorkshire – click here for Cricinfo card (which contains spoilers) with Iphegenia in my hand (so to speak). I read the book’s introduction during the morning session. This was harder reading than the play itself, but I knew I needed to get my head back into Greek drama generally and Euripides in particular to stand any chance with reading the play.

After lunch, I found a quiet spot on the far side of the ground. After a short while, Michael Vaughan (who was then England captain, rehabilitating after injury) came to field right in front of me.

“What are you reading?” asked Vaughan.

“Greek drama,” I replied, showing him the cover of my book. “Euripides.”

“Greek drama! Is reading that more interesting to you than watching County Championship cricket?” asked Vaughan.

“I have learnt to do both at the same time,” I replied. “Hardly ever miss a ball if it’s pace bowling. Harder with the spinners.”

Michael Vaughan made one of his “I’m not convinced” grunts and then wished me well.

In truth, Iphegenia was hard work while watching cricket. It is basically an escape play, but the plot hinges on siblings Orestes and Iphegenia failing to recognise one another until a vital “big reveal” watershed moment. Lots of room for dramatic irony in that device but you need to suspend a heck of a lot of belief throughout the play.

In summary, Iphigenia among the Taurians is:

  • Good for getting your head back into Greek drama
  • Not really useful material for a modern play
  • Good for attracting the attention of the England cricket captain (in my experience)
  • Otherwise not really suitable as cricket match reading

Have you tried to read summat while at a cricket match? Let us know how it went at king@kingcricket.co.uk


Books to read at the cricket – A Confederacy of Dunces by John Kennedy Toole

Ged writes:

This was a first for me in the matter of reading a novel while watching county cricket. In the past, at cricket, I have always gone for:

  • factual books (usually on economics, psychology, ethics or some mixture of those things)
  • plays
  • journal articles
  • and/or my general weekly reading (e.g. The Economist and/or The Week)

A Confederacy of Dunces is a great book. Most of it works fine as cricket reading, although some of the longer ramblings of the lead character, Ignatius J Reilly, are not ideally suited to the tempo of reading while watching cricket.

Walter Percy’s introduction to the book describes Ignatius as, “slob extraordinary, a mad Oliver Hardy, a fat Don Quixote…”. I suggest that the cricket lover imagines him as their least-favourite rotund cricketer. In my case, the cricketer in question was Fatty Pringle.

While watching Sam Robson nurdle the ball effortlessly off his legs and Nick Gubbins drive majestically through extra cover, I imagined “Ignatius” trying instead to hoik the ball to cow corner while emitting bovine styles of methane and noise.

But I digress. In summary, A Confederacy of Dunces is:

  • a cracking good read
  • almost certainly better read over a few days, not in chunks over a few months
  • entirely unconnected with cricket, except in your own imaginings
  • moderately suitable as cricket match reading. On balance, yes, go for it

Have you tried to read summat while at a cricket match? Let us know how it went at king@kingcricket.co.uk


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