Fibber in the Heat, by Miles Jupp


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The Independent Culture

Five books on cricket have so far won the William Hill Sports Book of the Year Award, now in its 24th year, but Fibber in the Heat, this year's shortlisted contender – the winner is announced tomorrow – is unusual in concentrating on life in the press box rather than out on the pitch.

Although Miles Jupp is a man of many parts – stand-up comedian, actor, writer, cricket fan, drinker – his decision to try and cover England's 2006 Test series in India as a journalist proved an ambition too far. Calling in a few favours, he obtained accreditation as a correspondent for the Western Mail and BBC Scotland, but things went wrong from the start.

The Welsh fast bowler Simon Jones, the Western Mail's only interest on the tour, went home injured, BBC Scotland never contacted him, he struggled to get a proper press pass, and was floored by the inevitable subcontinental stomach troubles.

But although he is not a seasoned journalist, Jupp is a natural writer, and his self-deprecatory account of his innocence abroad is very funny indeed, enlivened by his sharp observation of England's Fourth Estate at work and play.

While grateful for the kindnesses he received from heroes of his such as David Gower and the Test Match Special team, he came to realise that he was happier as a fan than a reporter. So if he wins the Bookie Prize he will doubtless be as amused as readers of his book will be.

Published in paperback by Ebury, £11.99