The Picador Book of Cricket

Ramachandra Guha (ed.)

Read April-May 2003

My dear friend Mals gave this to me ages ago, but it took a burst of longing for the sport to actually finish it. Guha is one of the (thankfully diminishing) ranks of conservatives who bemoan the advent of one-day cricket. Nevertheless, or perhaps only a person of his disposition could successfully accomplish this task, he has compiled a delectable collection of articles, mostly from obscure (read: old) sources. He organizes the excerpts by players, games, and trends. The usual suspects—Cardus, Fingleton, James, etc.—are all here; Guha reminds us that he is trying to recapture an age when literary types regarded cricket in their ambit.

A book like this leaves its editor open to innumerable angles of attack. But this would be woefully unfair. Guha has chosen well. It is perhaps telling that the two most poignant pieces are in the Little Heroes section. Arlott's pen sketch of Tom Wass, the ``roogh diamond'' [sic], is delectable. And just when I thought it couldn't be beat, Guha dredges up Cardus's loving profile of Yorkshireman Emmott Robinson, whose very title (Robinson of Yorkshire) immediately invests its focal character with a nobility that Cardus's quiet humor only elevates, never undermines. In a few brief pages, Cardus endows him with as much courage, heroic-yet-tragic strength and humanity as Homer or Shakespeare ever breathed into their creations. Read it and weep, Sports Illustrated and Best American Sports Writing.