Cricket: Two Gems amid the Mediocrity; BOOK REVIEWS

The Birmingham Post (England), May 19, 2007 | Go to article overview

Cricket: Two Gems amid the Mediocrity; BOOK REVIEWS


Byline: Peter Sharkey

Battle Renewed by David Frith 4sportsbooks.co.uk price: pounds 13.00 (saving pounds 5 on rrp)

Downed Under by Gideon Haigh 4sportsbooks.co.uk price: pounds 7.99 (saving pounds 5 on rrp)

Probably more than any other game, cricket has inspired writers to pen much of sport's most memorable literature.

Poets too have discovered beauty in this most British of sporting duels, creating ballads and rhymes packed with wonderful imagery in which readers can almost hear the familiar sound of willow on leather.

Understandably then, on the eve of another Test series, publishers have taken the opportunity to present their latest offerings to an eager, sports-loving public. But such has been the glut of cricket books, of variable quality, in recent years, that readers are increasingly forced to search through masses of rubbish before unearthing any gems.

The fault for this unappealing mound of cricketing tomes lies squarely with England's Ashes success in 2005, following which, almost anyone with a tenuous link to the team published their own account of those five memorable encounters.

Throughout the spring, many publishers, clearly affected by the summery weather, must have concluded that cricket is this year's 'must-have'. The result is bookshelves straining under the weight of new titles - few of which, funnily enough, deal with last winter's Ashes debacle. Accordingly, cricket biographies have suddenly become as common, and in many cases as poorly written, as their footballing counterparts.

Among the dross, however, are two books, each originating in Australia, that are well written and will, therefore, appeal to cricket fans.

Battle Renewed is by David Frith, a distinguished author born in England who has lived in Australia for many years. It's great appeal is objectivity and an easy humour, combined with a style of writing that makes the author's take on last winter's Ashes a joy to read.

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