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Book review: A Social History of English Cricket, By Derek Birley


Noting that the game was "of uncertain, though bucolic parentage", Birley delineates enduring traits in this witty panorama, rightly acclaimed when first published in 1999.

We learn, for example, that the current animus between England and Australia is nothing new (an 1877 encounter in Melbourne provoked "profound regret" and was judged "deplorably disgraceful" in the Aussie press) while WG Grace, described in the 1890s as "a great bluffer", presaged the modern habit of refusing to walk when clearly out.