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.
After giving gay film R-rating despite no sex or violencefilm
Arts & Ents blogs
- 1 Richard Dawkins on babies with Down Syndrome: 'Abort it and try again – it would be immoral to bring it into the world'
- 2 ALS ice bucket challenge co-founder Corey Griffin drowns, aged 27
- 3 Kajieme Powell: Missouri police release video footage of second man killed by officers
- 4 Paul Scholes: Manchester United need five experienced players who can turn round a desperate situation
- 5 James Foley 'beheading': Met police warn public watching murder video could be criminal offence
Laughs go global as Eddie Izzard and Dylan Moran bring international comedians to the Edinburgh Fringe
The Top Ten: Horrible buildings
JK Rowling writes new Harry Potter story on Pottermore: Introducing 'Singing Sorceress' Celestina Warbuck
Britain's ugliest buildings: Which monstrosities should be nominated for the Dead Prize?
Celebrity Big Brother 2014 line-up: Meet the contestants from Lauren Goodger to Kellie Maloney and Audley Harrison
Scottish independence: English people overwhelmingly want Scotland to stay in the UK
Isis threat: Cameron wants an alliance with Iran
Richard Dawkins on babies with Down Syndrome: 'Abort it and try again – it would be immoral to bring it into the world'
Crisis? What crisis? A visiting US doctor gives the NHS a rave review
Michael Brown shooting: Chaos erupts on the streets of Ferguson after autopsy shows teenager was shot six times – twice in the head
Scottish Independence Referendum: Salmond described as 'arrogant, ambitious and dishonest' by Scottish women