Are you are a club cricketer, either an active player or someone long retired but still active off the pitch and in the bar? If so, this book is essential reading.
Don’t be selfish, however. Suitably annotated, Dan Whiting’s The Exhaustive Guide to Club Cricket also makes a perfect present for a club colleague.
Highlighting chapter headings such as The Subs Dodger or The Muppet Fielder may or may not succeed in getting home a message that you have been dying to deliver for years. But whatever the outcome, you will almost certainly feel better for trying. And if a copy comes back to you with The Precocious Little Shit chapter fluorescently highlighted, well, you’ll just have to accept that you started it.
This book is a follow-up to Whiting’s earlier Definitive Guide to Club Cricket and the suspicion must be that further volumes will follow. Amongst others, the brief chapter on the club cricket tour is surely worthy of expansion.
Whiting has a very readable style. He specialises in similes that are as persistently effective as James Anderson with a new ball on a misty morning. There, he’s got me doing it, too – but he is a far better simile purveyor than me. If you don’t want to take my word for that, consider for example someone we have all encountered, the Crap Keeper who “catches the ball like the bloke in the brass band on cymbal duty.”
There is an excellent foreword to the book by Middlesex stalwart John Simpson. Whenever I see Simpson in action, I recall what Charles II allegedly said about one of his courtiers and statesmen – “Little Sidney Godolphin was never in the way and never out of the way.” It is the same with Simpson’s contribution here – he knows exactly what to say, how to say it and, most importantly, when to stop.
If most of the book can be dipped into whenever the mood takes you, the Epilogue is essential reading. Here, the mood changes, rather like a comedian who has you in stitches and then closes with a sad country and western song about his truck breaking down and his girl running off with his best mate.
In Dan Whiting’s case, he writes about the genuinely serious subject of the decline of club cricket. Will the whole world about which he writes survive? As he says, “I wonder if someone will read this book in a few years and wonder what the hell I’m talking about.”
To his credit, Whiting not only outlines the problem but also poses some possible solutions.
Readers of this book, lovers of club cricket all, will hope that solutions can be found. It would be immensely sad if club cricket declined and disappeared. But, as Whiting concludes, “only time will tell.”
In the meantime, there is plenty to be enjoyed in what Whiting accurately describes as “a ramble through the characters, quirks and wit of local cricket”
And, as if further incentive were needed, for every copy sold, a donation is being made to Melanoma UK.