Book of the week: The Nightwatchman - Wisden Cricket Quarterly Spring Issue


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The Independent Online

The Nightwatchman magazine’s spring issue is its fifth, and it goes from strength to strength as an outlet for eclectic long-form essays on the game. The criteria of the managing editor, Matt Thacker, include: “quality of writing, geographical mix, split of cricket journalists and ‘outsiders’, gender mix, subject range, mix of big names and unknowns,” and this issue middles the ball on every one.

Perhaps the most poignant article is Alison Mitchell’s portrait of “Australia’s 13th man”. If you wondered who the grey-haired 70-year-old in whites and Baggy Green cap was next to Michael Clarke on the outfield before December’s Adelaide Test, it was Barry “Nugget” Rees, a gentleman with learning difficulties who was long ago welcomed into the fold of the Aussie game, counts Steven Waugh, and Adam Gilchrist among his closest friends and has a team role as Honorary Assistant Coach.

Elsewhere among the 21 essays, the West Country sage David Foot chronicles the all-too-brief county career of Somerset’s engine-driver/wicketkeeper Seymour Clark; members of the losing side in the record first-class defeat, by an innings and 851 runs, explain that all was not quite what it seemed; Reg Simpson, England’s 12th man in Bradman’s final Test in 1948, claims Len Hutton “buggered up my career”; and Graeme Swann’s brother Alec reflects on sibling rivalry, or the lack of it.

My only criticism of The Nightwatchman is its unappealing sans serif typeface; the Gotham font is much used for building signage in the United States, which is where it should have stayed. But don’t let that picky point deter you from enjoying this cornucopia of cricket riches. And don’t be put off by the single-issue price of £9 either – it’s cheaper on subscription, and costs only a tenner a year as an e-book. If you enjoy this, the Summer Issue is out next month.

Published in paperback by Wisden, £9