Tutenkhamen’s Tracksuit and other Christmas cricket books

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A quick bit of housekeeping before the second Test. We received a review copy of Alan Tyers’ new book a few weeks ago and haven’t yet said anything about it.

On a related note, we’ll freely admit to not having read all of the cricket books, so if you’ve any recommendations to make for Christmas, stick them in the comments and we’ll add them to the bottom of the article. It might prove useful to someone, somewhere.

First, the review

And we’d better start with a disclaimer. We met Alan Tyers once and he was an absolute gent. It was on the one occasion we’ve been to Lord’s and it mizzled all day (not that this is particularly relevant).

The premise of Tutenkhamen’s Tracksuit is hinted at by the subtitle – The History of Sport in 100ish Objects. The book is supposed to be an exhibition catalogue for a display at the National Museum of the History of Sport, Orkney. Every item gets a double page spread with a description of what it is and why it is significant, accompanied by an image. It’s worth noting that the whole thing looks ruddy amazing. It’s full colour with art produced by regular collaborator, Beach.

The objects themselves are incredibly varied – and not just because it’s about sport as a whole, not solely cricket. With a few, like Lance Armstrong’s school report, you can see at least part of the joke coming in advance; but others, like ‘seminal hard rock iconography’ are far more opaque at first glance.

That’s the joy of this book, for us. Tyers’ last cricket-themed book, Crickileaks, suffered a little for being obvious in places, but Tutenkhamen’s Tracksuit doesn’t make the same mistake at all. Flicking through it, you find you have to read, otherwise you won’t really understand ‘Iron Mike’s iron’ or ‘the Shola amoeba’.

There is cricket here, but to be honest the entries about other sports are probably more enjoyable because you’re less likely to see jokes coming (although we enjoyed ‘the Barmy Army knife’ regardless of predictability). Having broader material opens up a lot more possibilities and perhaps elevates this above WG Grace Ate My Pedalo in some ways – although we recommend that book too.

WG Grace Ate My Pedalo isn’t the only Victorian-themed book by Alan Tyers, incidentally. He’s also written Gin & Juice: The Victorian Guide to Parenting as well as the impeccably titled Who Moved My Stilton?: The Victorian Guide to Getting Ahead in Business. That might be of relevance if you trust Alan to write well, but need to buy something for some idiot who doesn’t like cricket.

In summary, Tutenkhamen’s Tracksuit is excellent and is also sized to double as a thigh pad should you be in need of one. You can buy it from Amazon here.

Christmas cricket book recommendations

As chosen by our readers. You may or may not be able to find further information about each of them in the comments below.


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  1. I listened to the entire History of the World in 100 Objects series on Radio 4, and thought it was excellent (still available for download for free). Since this book is clearly a parody of sorts on this concept, why isn’t it called, “The History of Sport in 100ish Objects”. The subtitle should be the title, which would allow them to dispense with the Tutenkhamen bit.

    Every time I see a book with an outlandish title such as this (and all the other Alan Tyers books), my only thought is that the contents must be so indescribably dull that the publishers have insisted on something “wacky” to go on the cover. It’s like seeing a student wearing a fedora – you know it is only there to substitute for an actual personality. I blame Robert Persig for this.

    1. It might be that the book is good, but that publishers have such ill-conceived ideas about what a book should be that they make certain, incorrect, demands.

    2. Fair point. This book does sound OK, actually. Perhaps I’ll buy it and scribble out the title with a marker pen.

    3. Book titles, much like article headlines in newspapers, are generally the work of some form of committee or other in which the author can often play a negligable role. As a result, they are usually a jack of all trades, appealing to the lowest common denominator.

      I would suppose that this book in particular has designs on those spots next to the till at Waterstones, where an amusingly titled book may catch the eye. The idea being that by not relating to sport, or indeed cricket, the book will appeal to a broader audience. Because every bugger and his dog loves Egyptian leisurewear.

  2. Penguins Stopped Play by Harry Thompson and Coming Back To Me by Marcus Trescothick are two of the best cricket books I’ve ever read. The non-cricket bits are what make them so great.

  3. I liked “W.G. Grace: A Life” by Simon Rae, as much for the picture of his times as the picture of the man himself. It’s lengthy, and documents just about every run made and wicket taken, so that it does wear you down a little, but then again, given the player in question, that is probably appropriate.

    Also surprisingly enjoyed “More Than A Game: The Story of Cricket’s Early Years” by some guy called John Major, which goes way back before WG.

  4. As much of a bell as he is in real life these days, I’ve just finished “A Lot of Hard Yakka” and it was excellent.

    Before that, I read Matt Priors autobiography. Exactly what you would expect from him – dull, Team England refusal to make a comment on anything controversial at all. What makes a great team man in in real life doth not an autobiography make.

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