Publishers bowled over by the cricket phenomenon

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The Independent Culture

Commissioning editors have clinched the signatures of England's top players and if Michael Vaughan's team avoid defeat today and win the series the results for the book industry are set to be no less sensational.

By winning The Ashes for the first time in 20 years, England's cricketers will have pulled off a feat every bit as impressive as their rugby counterparts who won the World Cup down under two years ago.

The official tie-in book of the World Cup success, published by Orion, sold 200,000 copies and England's cricketers would benefit from the delivery of their titles in good time for the all-important Christmas market.

Not that publishers would dare to wait that long - indeed, nine titles will hit the shelves within a month of the series closing, threatening the dominance of football books.

The England all-rounder Andrew "Freddie" Flintoff, who confirmed his status as one of the world's top players yesterday with five wickets, is expected to be biggest at the box office. Being Freddie is published by Hodder with a national newspaper serialisation worth six figures and will be in the shops on 29 September.

On the same day, the entire England team will be on stand-by for promotional duties with the publication by Orion of the England cricket team's Ashes Diary. Orion's deputy chief executive, Malcolm Edwards, who signed that deal with the Professional Cricketers Association at the third Test, said: " The series has aroused so much interest and has been called the best Ashes ever."

Even if England lose it will be seen as a moral victory, he said. "We would be 3-1 up had it not rained in the third Test." Early drafts of the new titles suggest that, while offering a peek through the dressing room keyhole, the authors will not match the emotional rawness of former England batsman Graham Thorpe, who has recently charted his marital breakdown and custody battles in his autobiography. Michael Vaughan, who, with Flintoff, was snapped up by Roddy Bloomfield, Hodder's veteran sports editor, will write about his two years in charge of the national side in his book, Calling The Shots. The publication date has been brought forward to October.

Flintoff, whose burgeoning marketability as a cricketer has seen the Woodworm bat he uses become a sales phenomenon, will focus on his battle to overcome weight problems and doubts about his temperament at Test level.

Mr Bloomfield predicted that, win or lose, "Flintoff will take off."

The literary batting order

Rising from the Ashes by Graham Thorpe (HarperCollinsWillow, £18.99). published on 5 September

England's finest batsman of the past decade contrasts his achievements on the pitch with his personal problems with drink and depression.

My Spin on Cricket by Richie Benaud (Hodder, £18.99), 12 September

An anecdotal and humorous celebration of the game of cricket written by the popular television commentator.

The Battle for the Ashes by David Frith (Ebury, £14.99). 27 September

The veteran cricket writer gives his commentary.

Ashes Diary by the England Cricket Team's (Orion, £17.99), 29 September

The official account hopes to repeat the success of the official tie-in with England's Rugby World Cup triumph in 2003.

Ashes Fever: How England Won The Greatest Ever Test Series by Ian Stafford (Mainstream, £16.99), 28 September

The title is a work in progress.

Being Freddie by Andrew Flintoff (Hodder, £18.99), 29 September

England's all-round star talks about the game and discloses about how he conquered his weight problems and injuries.

Calling the Shots: The Captain's Story by Michael Vaughan (Hodder, £18.99), 14 October

The England captain's account of two years in charge.

Ashes 2005 by Gideon Haigh (Aurum, £9.99), 20 October

The Wisden writer gives his account of the series.

Ashes Diary by Duncan Fletcher (Simon & Schuster), November

The England coach tells his story.

Crossing the Boundary by Kevin Pietersen (Ebury), September 2006

The rising star, who has only played a handful of Tests so far, sold rights to his life story last week.