Cricket and All That

Henry Blofeld

Read June 2004

Henry Blofeld is a sometimes entertaining, sometimes gasbag cricket commentator and author. I haven't seen enough of Henry on TV to accurately peg him, but he seems to be some sort of toff-ish joker who intentionally casts himself in the Wodehouse set.

Blofeld's book promised to be an "irreverent history" of cricket and seemed to be just the right thing for reacquainting myself with the sport. Sadly, the book is a disappointment. Blofeld is happy to remind us of his Oxbridge training, but apparently he sneaked out of grammar and punctuation classes. His irreverence is surprisingly muted and, when present, more often predictable or juvenile than thought-provoking. And like many a commentator, he seems unable to decide whether the recent fashions of cricket (Packer onward) are (a) perfectly sensible and even fun, (b) an outrageous evil, or (c) a tolerable adaptation of the game's traditions. A writer should pick a line and stick to it, but Blofeld is, uh, all over the pitch. (For the record, I used to be a (b), but I've grown up, and am now squarely in the (a) camp.)

This book should not be confused with a little gem by the same name, written by Denis Compton and Bill Edrich. Compton and Edrich are dyed-in-the-wool traditionalists (which is amusing, given the reputation of Compton as a freewheeling celebrity in his salad days) and, though they don't so much justify their positions as assert them, they are at least consistent. Besides, you figure Compton and Edrich have earned their pulpit. Blofeld hasn't.