Holiday Reading

Herding Cats 

On passing by the beautiful Duke of Norfolk’s ground at Arundel this past Summer to watch a few overs of the annual Actors v Authors match, I took a stroll around the boundary and was recommended Herding Cats by Charlie Campbell. Thanks for the tip Rob (with the camera). 

Herding Cats is a good expression. Jazz Cats at that.

The front cover says it all : fielders with beer if not mobile phone in hand (irl both?), dejected and bored or fruitlessly appealing a wicket. Bails scattered. 

The Authors get a few good cricketers playing for them, although I don’t think the likes of Ed Smith turn up too often.

To have a quote from Nasser on the front is a result, although I suspect the foreword by Mike Brearley might attract a few more readers’ eyes. 

I read the little yellow book ‘..from Hackney to Hambledon’ a decade ago and loved it. This too delights. Interspersed with enticing Chapter Headings such as ‘The Tour’ and ‘The Morning of the Match’, and then further divided with sub headings such as ‘Does his age matter?’; ‘You have a Private Income don’t you?’; ‘Are we still going for the target’; and ‘Excellent advice but was this the moment for it?’, the pacing is perfect. As on the spot as McGrath.

When I turned up to watch the match a man sporting an ‘Eggs and Bacon’ tie bent my ear as I bought a cuppa about how Lords had been a ‘Roman Circus’ and a ‘Cauldron’ the previous week during the Test. I didn’t tell him that I had been there too, I was enjoying his recounting. There must have been something in the air. Actors and Writers.   

Back to the book – very enjoyable. 

There are some amusing anecdotes, such as the fielders that decide the game will be livened up by taking an ecstasy tablet, to the bowler who when asked what he’ll be bowling winks at his captain and says “Just you wait and see”, before hurling down an over of balls splayed everywhere and carted to all corners. 

Long live Sunday Cricket. 

Ten to win… and the Last Man In.

I enjoy reading Henry Blofeld’s works. 

When I read Ben Elton’s works I can hear his 100 mph voice coming through, and it is the same with Blofeld. Albeit the two – chalk and cheese.

The cover is great. You can sense the drama. With a middle stump on the ground and a batsman walking off unvelcroing his gloves, with Green capped Cricketers high fiving each other, there is a burning sunset after a day of blue skies which gives the backdrop to the weather vane of Father Time atop a pavilion which houses a non-digital scoreboard indicating any result is possible. Number 11 has a spring in his step and is running on. A full house.

These 30 matches span nearly 140 years. 

Naturally Blowers finds room for the Eton v Harrow match of 1910. There is an amusing account of a Taxi being handsomely paid to get to Lords on the double from a Barbers in Mayfair. 

Each account has the scorecard and they make pretty interesting reading. None more so than O’Brien’s 113 against England for Ireland in 2011 in Bangalore. I quote, ‘O’Brien moved from 60 to 70 in two balls and then from 80 to 90 in two more’ : fireworks.

A book like this couldn’t not contain an account of Headingley ’81.

I particularly liked the account of England v Zimbabwe in 1996. Glass of Bolly? Doing a ‘Bulawayo’ – very good. 

Naturally it ends with those two rather special matches in 2019 and Stokes doing his thing.