Published in hardback by Bloomsbury, £16.99
The Authors XI, by The Authors Cricket Club
Sunday 16 June 2013
It could all have gone terribly wrong.
The idea of reviving the Authors Cricket Club, who first played in 1905 (opening batsmen: PG Wodehouse and Arthur Conan Doyle) before packing it in seven years later, and then having the players write a book about their season, ran the risk of becoming an exercise in sugar-coated whimsy, a sepia-tinged nod to the so-called “Golden Age” of cricket before the First World War spoiled everything.
Happily, nothing could be farther from the truth; by a felicitous choice of both fixtures and authors, each contributing a chapter based one of the matches, The Authors XI is by turns funny, feisty and affectionate.
The ever-excellent Jon Hotten ruminates on the changing nature of commentary as they face the BBC’s Bushmen; the historian Holland brothers, James and Tom, respectively explore the joy of creating a village ground and why age need not wither you; while The Independent’s own Amol Rajan has some typically spiky views on the Establishment and cricketer/politicians as the side take on the Lords and Commons CC.
In his account of the game against a Publishers XI, Sam Carter quotes Neville Cardus’s bon mot that it is wise not to be rude about cricket autobiographies, as “you never know who has written them”, but here the equation is triumphantly reversed; the team may be mixed ability on the field, but they sure can write.
Four of the Authors XI – Hotten, Rajan and the Holland Bros - also appear in a new Wisden quarterly magazine, The Nightwatchman (Wisden, £9).
Its premise is that in the mainstream media there is “a dearth of long-form writing on cricket”, which they seek to rectify.
Certainly the first issue justifies their ambitions, with essays exploring topics as diverse as Wally Hammond’s Bradman complex, the perverse joy of England batting collapses, the illogicality of the nightwatchman’s role and Surrey’s least successful captain.
It also has a strong international flavour, so often lacking in Britain’s sports pages. The second issue is just out; on this evidence, I’ll be buying it.
Watch the new House of Cards series three trailerTV
Oscars 2015It was the first time Barney has compered the Academy Awards
Oscars 2015 From Meryl Streep whooping Patricia Arquette's equality speech to Chris Pine in tears
Oscars 2015 Mexican filmmaker uses speech to urge 'respect' for immigrants
TV ReviewThe intrigue deepens as we delve further but don't expect any answers just yet
Razzies 2015 Golden Raspberry Awards 'honours' Cameron Diaz and Kirk Cameron
Arts & Ents blogs
- 1 Home Office says Nigerian asylum-seeker can’t be a lesbian as she’s got children
- 2 What happens to your body when you give up sugar?
- 3 Drugs Live cannabis trial: Hash is less harmful than any other drug, expert claims
- 4 Turkish Airlines flight TK 726 crash-lands on Nepal runway amid dense fog
- 5 Apple and Google users being spied on for a decade because of 'Freak' security flaw
Kurt Cobain's life and death: Montage of Heck film uses unseen footage to tell Nirvana frontman's story
Mal Peet dead at 67: Tributes to children's author who was 'universally adored'
Fifty Shades of Grey movie shows first sex scene 'after 40 minutes'
Drugs Live: Twitter responds to Jon Snow and Jennie Bond smoking cannabis
Jimmy McGovern's new TV series 'Banished': Why Australia's past has such resonance today
'Jihadi John': CAGE representative storms off Sky News accusing Kay Burley of Islamophobia
Durham Free School: 'Creationism taught at' free school facing closure
Nearly 100,000 of Britain's poorest children go hungry after parents' benefits are cut
Ukip would cut billions from Scottish budget to fund English tax cuts
End of the licence fee: BBC to back radical overhaul of how it is funded
Ukraine crisis: Top Chinese diplomat backs Putin and says West should 'abandon zero-sum mentality'