Learning something new is always a good thing. Learning lots of things is even better. That’s certainly an attribute held by Dan Whiting of The Middle Stump, a blog adored by cricketers and their dogs the world over. Thanks to him, I am now a slightly more knowledgeable person than I was before.
I now know that Nasser Hussain was once an aspiring leg spin bowler, that David Gower is probably a jinx and that Merv Hughes once farted at Viv Richards. These are clearly snippets of information I needed to have and there’s plenty more to be found in Whiting’s new book Characters of Cricket.
The book offers a collection of anecdotes, memories and random information about cricket and cricketers. In true Middle Stump style, it is a mixture of humour and oddities, with one or two sad moments thrown in, and is a nice mix of domestic and international cricket, big names and lesser-known players.
You can read about the expected – Sachin Tendulkar and Ian Botham, who did something once that no one really remembers; the legendary – Steve Waugh and David Lloyd; the eternal joker – Phil Tufnell. Honourable mentions must go to the eponymous Peter Sutcliffe look of 1981 (I’m sure Kim Hughes was not sporting it), Graeme Swann’s arse-raping and Mike Brearley’s fear of Hashim Amla’s beard. Geoff Lawson and Merv Hughes even get mentions – what more could you possibly want?
Whiting’s favourite moments and players are detailed in what come across as rather personal memories and interspersed with comedy team selections, such as the Bearded XI and the Bad Boys XI. There are also one or two opinion pieces. As a self-confessed Middlesex supporter Whiting naturally thinks he has a right to those, but it certainly takes one’s mind off all the hero worship of Michael Vaughan (the man stole an urn, for goodness sakes!).
Dan is an Englishman so naturally KP makes an appearance but if you can get passed that anomaly, this is a light hearted and witty yet quite intimate book written with cricket lovers in mind. Like the Middle Stump blog itself, the humour betrays what is clearly a deep love and understanding of the game.
Putting Monty on the cover was clearly a ruse to make sure the man himself buys at least two hundred copies for his friends and family and, all in all, there’s a lot of Bob Dylan Willis and not enough Derbyshire. If you like your cricket, though, you’ll definitely find this worth a look.
Characters of cricket by Dan Whiting
ISBN: 9780750961127 – See more at: http://www.thehistorypress.co.