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!

Six to Watch: T20I Status – Team Special

IMG_4087.JPG

Following my article regarding players in the men’s game to look out for come T20I status being applied to all associate nations, here’s a Six to Watch Team Special…

Argentina

The South American side used to benefit from regular visits from touring MCC sides and therefore played First Class fixtures. They’ve appeared in the ICC Trophy but have slipped off the ICC World Cricket League structure so it’ll be interesting to see what route back to cricket recognition they can take.

Canada

The inaugural Global T20 Canada kicks off this month, complete with the usual T20 franchise brigade, Chris Gayle, Steven Smith and Shahid Afridi included.

https://www.gt20.ca

It’s to be hoped that the competition ignites interest amongst the local community in The Land of Maple Leaf. Canada have had their moments in cricket history, most notably when John Davison smacked a record-breaking century at the 2003 World Cup.

They’ve also had some shockers though, including being dismissed for 36 by Sri Lanka in the same tournament. They were also routed for 45 against England in 1979. Canada will be relying on expats for now but hopefully native Canadians will be inspired to take up the game and break into the national side.

Denmark

Not that long ago Denmark were one of the there or there about nations beyond the Test world. Their place on the cricket scene was somewhat akin to how Netherlands have been in the past couple of decades. Players such as Ole Mortensen and Freddie Klokker appeared on the county circuit with Mortensen averaging just 23.88 with the ball in the First Class game. When Demark defeated Israel by all ten wickets at the 1994 ICC Trophy, Mortensen claimed figures of 7-19! They’ve somewhat fallen away since, though former England Test player Amjad Khan has helped them return to prominence in recent years. Expats are almost vital to developing cricket in the associate nations but it’s great to see some young local talent in the Denmark squad. Danish born Klokker who was on the books of both Warwickshire and Derbyshire tends to don the gloves these days and his county experience complete with First Class hundreds will be vital if the Danes are to be great again!

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Frederik_Klokker

Fiji

In bygone years Fiji benefited from their proximity to Australia. They even toured Oz and hosted New Zealand as well as been regulars in the ICC Trophy. In recent years they’ve been well down the ICC World Cricket League spectrum, falling as low as division seven. Their squad is full of indigenous talent including many players still in their teens.

When Fiji defeated Wellington in a First Class fixture in 1948, it was the man with the longest name (IL Bula) in cricket history who led the way with 88 in Fiji’s second innings to set the Pacific islanders up for a heart-pumping one-wicket win…

http://www.espncricinfo.com/review2012/content/player/24046.html

Rwanda

Rwanda have put a lot of effort into raising the profile of cricket in their country and if for no other reason than their cricket ground is so beautiful then it’s to be hoped that they can join the African forces to be reckoned with.

Captain Eric Dusingizimana famously broke a world record with an epic fifty-one hour net session.

http://www.rcsf.org.uk

South Korea

South Korea have played at the Asian Games but looked like they’d have made a good ODI side ten years ago. Technically correct they’ll need to adapt their skills to T20I cricket. The talent and hunger is there and it’d be great to see a side from the Far East come to the fore in the cricket world. Maybe some of their players can have great Koreas (Careers!)… sorry!

On the subject of Associate Cricket, Roy Morgan’s Real International Cricket: A History in One Hundred Scorecards is well, well worth reading. Tim Brooks’ Cricket On the Continent as well as Second XI: Cricket in it’s Outposts by Tim Wigmore and Peter Miller are also essential reads for the Associate fan.

Stateside Smash

IMG_1417.JPG

English cricket has an identity crisis. It needs a franchise system, one like that currently employed in Australia (Only six First Class teams) to get people attending cricket matches and specifically Twenty20 matches. It can’t do it though. It can’t do it because of fear, a fear that runs through the veins of each of the eighteen English counties, or at least the less glamorous ones. The general consensus is that eighteen teams is too many. Tradition is preventing English cricket from progressing. If English cricket were to introduce a franchise system that has six, eight, ten or even twelve city based franchises then what will happen to the counties that are not represented?

I did attempt to answer this question but then realised that it’s a whole other post, one for another time maybe!

Back to the matter in hand. English cricket has an identity crisis. American cricket does not!

Okay, it probably does but not in the same way that English cricket does. For all it’s travails, poor administration and despite brief flirtations to make cricket popular in the US, cricket stateside is effectively a blank canvas. It’s therefore amazing that some eccentric billionaire hasn’t yet invented the Stateside Smash. India has the IPL, South Africa the Ram Slam, Australia the Big Bash and the USA could and should have the Stateside Smash. A northern hemisphere clash with the English game and lack of facilities are the major stumbling blocks. There are limited cricket facilities in the USA but if somebody really wanted it to happen, it could happen.

If we hypothetically start on a small scale with just six teams, six state based franchises. Let’s say California, Florida, Indiana, New York, Texas and Washington. This provides a reasonable national geographical split as well having teams located somewhere near supposedly existing cricket stadiums. Basically we’re looking for some big money backers to get these franchises up and running, amongst other things potentially funding the construction of purpose built stadia. Lauderhill’s Central Broward Regional Park (Florida) is the only purpose built cricket stadium in the entire US. The USA is a big country (No really it is!) so unlike most domestic sports competitions the tournament could be held World Cup style in just one city. There could be two or even three matches a day on the same ground. This happens on T20 Finals Day in England and could still involve less wear and tear than a First Class or List A match. A six team tournament with each team playing each other once in the group stage and including a semi-final and third place play off would require eighteen matches so even with non game days for ground reparation / player respite, a tournament could be completed in two or certainly three weeks time. The winner of the tournament could then host the following year’s competition or there could be a preplanned rotational hosting.

This might get things up and running but of course meritocracy and complete regional representation would be required to get all of the country involved and have a team to root for. There are fifty states in the USA (No really, there are!). These could be divided into six divisions. North East, North West, North Central, East Central, South East and South West with two groups of nine and four groups of eight teams for the preliminary rounds providing a regional qualifier and six-team national finals competition representatives. For the preliminaries a league only format would be employed, no finals, top of the table goes through, simple as that. A nine-team group would require 72 matches if each team played each other home and away but only 36 if the home and away element were alternated annually. An eight-team group would require either 56 matches or just 28.

Of course a state such as California has more than one big city, examples being Los Angeles, Sacramento, San Diego and San Francisco and Nevada’s capital is Carson City not Las Vegas. Potential backers from each of these cities might like a piece of the action. If the infrastructure is put in place teams could have more than one home ground during the preliminaries to attract fans from various cities and could therefore have more than one stadium per state. This could lessen the strain on the just one ground finals tournament idea.

A city-based franchise is an appealing option and has been successful in Australia and India but the opportunity to provide an equal geographical proportion is ultimately limited. Of course no city is under any obligation to create a team and if ten city based franchises were created in Florida but none in Chicago then so be it. Whilst it would be great to commence a new era in USA cricket with a nationwide equilibrium, ultimately meritocracy would be decisive. In Premier League football Manchester has two clubs in the Premier League whilst Sheffield’s leading clubs are currently outside the country’s top division. Paris, France has many football teams. In basketball Los Angeles has the LA Lakers and LA Clippers. It could be that the Stateside Smash commences with six city based franchises rather than state sides. These teams might be LA Angels, Los Angeles CC, San Francisco 17s (Year of foundation) New York City Pioneers, Fort Lauderhill Gators and Philadelphia Bats. That’s six teams with three from one state and two from one city. This doesn’t help gain nationwide appeal but if financial backers and cricket enthusiasts got these hypothetical teams off the ground first then they would be the six teams to compete in the Stateside Smash.

Not only would said teams need financial backers they would also need… players! Even if the Stateside Smash clashed with the start of the English county season and the IPL there would still be English players who aren’t involved in the IPL and aren’t quite expected to be in their county’s first XI at the start of the season or maybe some players that retired at the conclusion of the previous campaign but can handle a few weeks of Twenty20. Even if not the cream of the crop these players could help professionalise the American game. Domestic players from other parts of the world too could participate but it’s essential that American nationals are presented with the opportunity to work and play alongside these players and help provide national identity for Native American fans and ultimately provide a strong national team. Maybe the teams could have sixteen-man squads that contain a maximum of four international players and a minimum of twelve local players. There would surely be players nearing or having already reached the end of their playing careers keen to gain coaching experience. A month long stint in the US could be an ideal place to start.

It would be easy to write cricket’s prospects off in a country so fanatical about baseball but the success of soccer and its continued growth when competing with American football, baseball and basketball amongst other sports is an example of how a new generation can learn to love a new sport. It may be that like soccer, cricket can gain a strong female following and help the women’s game blossom.

In Tim Wigmore and Peter Miller’s ‘Second XI: Cricket in its Outposts’ Miller provides a chapter on USA. Miller writes “USA had all the ingredients needed for the creation of a Test-playing nation” but also details the administrative strife that cricket in America has been through. Tim Brooks also provides a chapter to the book (Nepal) and his exhaustively detailed ‘Cricket on the Continent’ provides many parallels to cricket in the USA’s position. Competition from other sports, regional concentration (activity, facilities and leagues) and the balance between being competitive (selecting expats) and developing local talent are just some of the issues that an emerging cricket nation must contend with.

In truth the idea of a Stateside Smash requires even more research and attention than I have provided but hopefully this article provides a slice of the pie in regards to what could be for cricket across the pond.