Do we really need yet another history of cricket? Yes, if it's as perkily written as this.
The former Middlesex quickie has strung the story of "the greatest game on earth" (his words, but we agree) together in entertaining, conversational manner, and he is as sound on players past as present, rescuing from the shadows neglected English heroes such as Wilfred Rhodes, the slow left-armer who took 4,204 first-class wickets and could bat a bit too, managing 1,000 runs and 100 wickets in a season 16 times. He is acute on some of today's greats; comparing Brian Lara with Garry Sobers, he observes that Lara is "just as good. And just as mercenary". One or two of the jokes are as laboured as Matthew Hoggard's trudge back to his mark but it is a fresh trip down a well-trodden path.
Also out in paperback is Marcus Berkmann's whimsical 'Ashes to Ashes' (Abacus, £8.99), updated with the 2009 series. The perfect pick-me-up for those bored with "twenny-twenny".
Published in paperback by Black Swan, £8.99Reuse content