Cricket Books Worth Reading

Hi followers

Here’s are some cricket books that I’ve read that I’d thoroughly recommend you do too. Some books I read before I started this blog but where I’ve already reviewed a book, I’ve provided the link.

Ed Smith Playing Hardball

There’s a great line in this book that explains the fundamental difference between baseball and cricket. It’s one that’s really good to have a handle on to understand the one of the two you’re less familiar with.

Tim Lane and Elliot Cartledge Chasing Shadows: The Life and Death of Peter Roebuck

A book bound to stir discomfort amongst some, this seems a fairly written effort of a delicate subject, a delicate life. I can’t claim to have been overly familiar with Roebuck before reading this book recently. Of course I knew the name but as I wrote in my review… I judged the book and not the man.

https://sillypointcricket.com/2018/09/22/elliot-cartledge-and-tim-lane-chasing-shadows-the-life-and-death-of-peter-roebuck-book-review/

Christopher Lee Howzat

An insight into Kerry Packer and how he changed the face of cricket. It’s all very apt given the so many changes occurring on the global cricket horizon right now and in the not too distant past. Traditionalists may despise him but cricket would look a lot different if it weren’t for Packer or certainly wouldn’t have progressed at the same rate.

https://sillypointcricket.com/2017/06/29/christopher-lee-howzat-book-review/

Peter Obourne Wounded Tiger: A History of Cricket in Pakistan

What’s great about this book is that you don’t just learn about the history of cricket in Pakistan but about the history of Pakistan in general. Not surprisingly, it’s an exhaustive read but one that makes me long to discover written histories of other cricket nations.

The following three books are essential reading for fans like me who long for the game to blossom outside of the Test circuit.

Tim Brooks Cricket on the Continent

https://sillypointcricket.com/2016/11/20/tim-brooks-cricket-on-the-continent-book-review/

Tim Wigmore and Peter Miller Second XI: Cricket in its Outposts

Roy Morgan Real International Cricket: A History in One Hundred Scorecards

https://sillypointcricket.com/2017/03/03/roy-morgan-real-international-cricket-book-review/

There are others, some that I’ve enjoyed, others that I haven’t. You can find all my book reviews here…

https://sillypointcricket.com/category/book-reviews/

I’ve currently got a stash of more bat ‘n’ ball themed books waiting to be read so look out for more reviews in 2019!

Selection, Transfers, Drafts and Other Cricket Ramblings

Gareth Southgate selects the England football team… all by himself.

“Football again. I thought this was a cricket blog!”

England cricket coach Trevor Bayliss doesn’t select the team but definitely has an input from time to time. In cricket it’s the norm, certainly in England, for a selection panel to choose the national squad. There’s normally three or four people that spend their days scouting the domestic circuit before getting together to decide if changes to the first XI (Test/ODI & T20I) are necessary and if so, who’s good enough to step up. There’ll normally be one selector who is in position to have the final say. They’ll possibly be referred to as the ‘chairman of’ or ‘chief’ selector(s).

Would such a set-up be beneficial in football?

The main difference between football and cricket, at least in England, is that our national football coach does actually have the time to watch all the domestic players perform. Gareth Southgate can spend a whole weekend watching all of the Premier League matches (Not live obviously) then watch the English teams in Europe during the week. However for the person at the helm of a side such as Australia, where the national side’s players are playing throughout various leagues across the globe, it actually becomes much harder. It’s in these instances where the notion of a selection panel could be worthwhile. On the cricket front, one person would struggle to watch all four days of each of the eighteen English county cricket teams’ County Championship matches, let alone limited overs encounters. That’s even if they were on the telly! Watching selected highlights packages would definitely not be a very good way to go about selecting a national cricket team. This is why a panel of selectors as opposed to just one lone selector is essential in cricket.

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On the subject of the eighteen counties: Only once in a blue moon will Gareth Southgate select a second tier player for the English football team, so should County Championship (First Class) second division players even be considered for England’s Test side?

If they aren’t, we’ll continue to see the Premier League style transfers that are now common place in cricket. Just like in football the supposed better players will join the first division teams but they won’t always play. The second division will get the cast offs, also-rans and not quite good enoughs. At this point it’s worth contemplating what’s more important: The national side or the quality of the product (Sorry, ICC marketing speak!) at domestic level. Loyalty from player to county will also near non-existence and on that subject…

Could county cricket follow the trend of the global T20 leagues and the history of American sport (Including Baseball, Basketball and Ice Hockey) by becoming a drafted league?

Returning to the Premier League but staying on the subject of drafts: Can you imagine the owners of Manchester City, United or Chelsea thinking “Let’s try and make the league a level playing field and have a draft system?”

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At the moment, it’s easy to imagine the likes of Durham, Leicestershire and Derbyshire welcoming a draft system. The likes of Nottinghamshire, Essex and Surrey would likely be less keen. The upcoming city based franchise system will have a draft pick. I’ve mentioned before how this will impact counties as players from the weaker teams will enjoy the better coaching and facilities at other grounds before possibly seeking a transfer in county cricket. To implement a draft system in county cricket would be radical and anything but traditional. As with my proposals for a restructure of world cricket (Or what I’m now referring to as the Global Cricket League or GCL for short), sometimes potential changes to what has been for many years are worth exploring. I’m not suggesting that a draft pick is the way to go in county cricket but it’s a thought and not beyond the realms of possibility in the future.

This isn’t one of those articles that’s going to be rounded off with a conclusion or whatever formal ending an article should have but as the title indicates, I hope that you enjoyed rambling with me!

Unnecessary Umpires?

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Do we actually need umpires, on-field ones at least?

My nephew plays Ultimate (Don’t call it frisbee!) and they don’t use umpires.

I think that it was Kevin Pietersen who hinted at such, that on-field umpires needn’t call no-balls but a third umpire in the box complete with screen could simply add the run to the score, a notification could come up on the big screen and the players could refer to the scoreboard to know if there was still a delivery remaining in the over.

Umpires get some stick for making the wrong call but how can you possibly check for a no-ball with your head facing down then look up and keep up with a ball being bowled in excess of 90mph? You’re head is bound to not always be straight and therefore not in line with the stumps. There are those that say umpires didn’t get these decisions wrong in the past but the truth is that video replays weren’t there to challenge that assumption.

In regards to run out calls, these often tend to go the big screen anyway. Even when it doesn’t seem a close call, there’s often a check as to whether the wicketkeeper has dislodged the bails legitimately.

In terms of general decision making such as LBWs and caught behinds, not having on-field umpires could quite possibly bring a batsman’s integrity to the fore. Obviously we currently have DRS implemented with a cap but if a batsman knows that the decision is going to the screen for everybody to see then if he or she knows they’re out, they might realise that the sensible thing to do is to walk.

Like playing, umpiring is not easy. Standing in excessive heat, having to concentrate for 600 deliveries a day with TV stations across the globe analysing and criticising your decision making is almost like being a player but without the glory for doing your job well.

In baseball, I believe that they have a central hub for decision making. The third umpire or their equivalent are in a studio possibly miles away.

Could we have this set-up for county or franchise matches that are being played simultaneously?

It may be felt that the appeal, that a bowler turning and pleading to an umpire may be lost from the game but as it stands that umpire’s decision is going to be questioned anyway. If a team really wants to appeal, their captain could use the current standard signal or even push a button on some sort or wristband that notifies that particular matches designated umpire at the central hub. The decision then comes up on the big screen for all (Players and spectators) to see. In terms of time taken out of the game we can tie this into unnecessary breaks in play and these being eradicated from the game e.g. a batsman should not be allowed to change his gloves or any equipment unless it’s broken during a session or you’re only allowed a drink during an official drinks break. This is possibly an article in itself. I have a habit of doing that, writing an article that spawns another!

There are lots of intricacies to the game of cricket but checks for height related no-balls and dismissals off them are amongst other things, elements of the game that with a little polishing, could all be done by in-studio umpires without stemming the flow of the game too much.

Like many walks of life, technology is putting people’s livelihoods at risk. In this case tech and the human mind could work together. Umpires would still be needed if not actually on the field.

If You Build it, He Will Come!

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Why aren’t there any great cricket films?

I can’t stand baseball but would gladly watch Field of Dreams every year or two. I could even handle some ice hockey in the form of The Mighty Ducks but if Wondrous Oblivion is the best of cricket that ‘they’ can come up with then we’re struggling. Moneyball was worth watching and Million Dollar Arm wasn’t bad but it’s still more baseball than cricket. Hell, even that Luke Perry film about Bull Riding (8 Seconds) wasn’t bad!

There’s clearly a lot of Bollywood cricket films around so my apologies if there’s some great ones. My focus is on movies in the English language.

Surely the story of a cricketer working his way up from his back garden to international cricket, falling in love, captaining England to Ashes victory, being tempted into some spot-fixing etc, could be a great recipe for some build ’em up ‘n’ knock ’em down movie drama. Alternatively, a cricket fan hearing voices in his head telling him to construct a cricket pitch in his garden or somebody doing community service being forced to coach a perennial wooden spooners cricket team (Where am I getting these ideas?!) would be destined to be big bashes (Smashes) at the box office!

Hope for West Indies

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It’s fair to say that since the turn of the century Caribbean cricket hasn’t been at it’s peak. The West Indies national side have not been the force they once were. Potential stars such as Kieron Powell packed the game in altogether to try their hand at baseball, though he’s recently returned to cricket whilst Darren Bravo’s future is in serious doubt following a recent Twitter outburst.

There is however a glimmer of hope for West Indies. When Shai Hope made his Test debut against England it was in truth probably a little too soon but a career best knock of 211 just prior to the Test got him the nod. Over eighteen months later he is still awaiting a Test match half-century but did make a career best 41 in his last Test outing before striking 47 on ODI debut earlier today.

It’s not just Shai either. His elder brother Kyle, four years Shai’s senior at 27 is still awaiting a First Class century but a batting average of 29.35 suggests that he has no problem getting going. He recently struck 107 for West Indies A against Sri Lanka A in a List A match.

Amongst others, the encouraging signs displayed by Roston Chase early in his Test career, Nicholas Pooran debuting in T20Is and Rahkeen Cornwall’s domestic performances also provide West Indies with optimism for the years ahead.