The Way It Was, by Stephen Chalke

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The Independent Culture

When Stephen Chalke proposed a book about 1950s cricket, publishers were united in their indifference. So he published it himself, to great acclaim. In the ensuing 11 years he has written a further 10 – two named as 'Wisden' Books of the Year – and this latest is a collection of his magazine and newspaper articles, focusing mainly on county cricket between 1946 and 1969.

A half-forgotten age is brought vividly back to life when the Chalke pen gets to work. He keeps himself unobtrusively in the background, yet you sense his deep love for and knowledge of the game has enabled him to tease out tales from the players of that era which would otherwise have remained untold. Keith Andrew's record (still standing) of not conceding a bye for nearly 900 overs while keeping for Northamptonshire; the Gloucestershire off-spinner Bomber Wells's hundred in 35 minutes, batting No 11; Sir Julien Cahn and his inflatable pads – glimpses of the past, before Twenty20 had been dreamt of, told with wit and 20/20 vision.

Published in hardback by Fairfield Books. Available via mail order at £17 inc p&p from, 01225 335813