Overdue recognition of women's art

Christmas could become a mite expensive for the cricket buff and bibliophile this year. Or at least for those who are persuaded to purchase some of the offerings. For a start, there is the last word in Test cricket records.

Christmas could become a mite expensive for the cricket buff and bibliophile this year. Or at least for those who are persuaded to purchase some of the offerings. For a start, there is the last word in Test cricket records.

It would be safe to say that The Wisden Book of Test Cricket (Headline, £40.00) has finally come of age and not merely because it is a remarkable 21 years since the first single volume appeared. Back in 1979 Bill Frindall's opus was considered pretty magnum, incorporating as it did some 800 Test matches between 1877 and 1977. Now at the beginning of the 21st century there have been a further 700 or so Tests and this essential work has expanded from one volume, then two to three.

But it is not the sheer weight of Tests which has helped this work to reach maturity but rather the fact that for the first time Mr Frindall has included women's cricket.

There have been women's Tests since 1934-35, when England first played Australia in Brisbane (England won that one), but women have been involved in cricket for as long as the game has been in existence. Indeed, if certain chroniclers are to be believed, they started it all with stoolball in the South-East of the country and were the first to introduce over-arm bowling. So it is high time their international records were accorded the same status as the men's. Frindall's masterpiece of patience and accuracy may appear expensive but it is three books in one; and it does do justice to both sexes. Think of a statistic you would like to know about men's and women's cricket and Frindall's book almost certainly has it. Comprehensive sums it up.

So too is David Rayvern Allen's reworking of Last Over, turning it into E W Swanton -- A Celebration of his Life and Work (Richard Cohen Books-Metro, £20.00).

From the foreword by The Right Hon John Major CH MP to the final tribute by John Woodcock, a close friend and former amanuensis, the book gleams with quality and ideas and arguments, all eloquently expressed, be they by the man himself or his friends, admirers and former colleagues. He spanned the best part of the 20th century, his writing first appearing in 1924 in All Sports Weekly. He moved on to the Evening Standard before eventually joining the Daily Telegraph. He watched and interviewed some of the game's greatest players, including Frank Woolley and Wally Hammond.

The author-cum-editor Rayvern Allen has the happy knack of the good biographer in knowing when the actions and words of his subject say it all. The format, an amalgamation of Swanton's journalism, personal recollections and a few words from Allen at the head of each section, paints a vivid three-dimensional portrait of the doyen of 20th century cricket writing.

It is Woodcock, a former distinguished cricket correspondent of The Times and editor of Wisden Cricket Almanack who deserves the last word on Swanton and he comes up with as fine a line as any: "He [Swanton] knew that cricket never has been what it was, and he never went off it."

Cricket has a habit of producing "characters". They need not be players, as Swanton's own life and times prove. Another such has to be Henry Blofeld. His autobiography A Thirst for Life (Hodder & Stoughton, £18.99) cannot be praised too highly. It is erudite, eccentric, eclectic and otherwise extremely well written. There are deft touches, and humourous brushstrokes. Blofeld is a latter-day Wodehouse with his witty observations of people and class.

No cricket year would be the same without the Wisden Cricketers' Almanack. The 137th edition also has a sister publication Down Under as well. The Australian Wisden (or Ozden as those in the know refer to it) retails at £22.50 but is most easily obtainable direct from the distributors, Penguin (telephone 0208 757 4036) or try Sports Pages in London or Manchester. Then there is Playfair Cricket Annual 2000 (Headline, £4.99), another vade-mecum.

Hampshire have moved to The Rose Bowl on the edge of Southampton leaving behind dear old Northlands Road, where they had been based since 1885. Richard Binns, an unabashed fan, has produced a poignant memorial to the ground: Close of Play at Northlands Road (Chipstone Books, £9.99). It captures in photographs the very aspect of a typical day at the ground and every character and personality who watched, worked or wielded the willow there.

Three other cricket books worthy of a mention are David Thurlow's biography of Ken Farnes, Diary of an Essex Master (PWP, £16.95), and Chris Westcott's two books: The Class of 59 (Mainstream, £15.99) and his own publication Cricket at the Saffrons (Omnipress, £17.99). The latter carries a foreword by E W Swanton.

Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Caption competition
Caption competition
  • Get to the point
Latest stories from i100
Daily Quiz
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Career Services

Day In a Page

General Election 2015: Chuka Umunna on the benefits of immigration, humility – and his leader Ed Miliband

Chuka Umunna: A virus of racism runs through Ukip

The shadow business secretary on the benefits of immigration, humility – and his leader Ed Miliband
Yemen crisis: This exotic war will soon become Europe's problem

Yemen's exotic war will soon affect Europe

Terrorism and boatloads of desperate migrants will be the outcome of the Saudi air campaign, says Patrick Cockburn
Marginal Streets project aims to document voters in the run-up to the General Election

Marginal Streets project documents voters

Independent photographers Joseph Fox and Orlando Gili are uploading two portraits of constituents to their website for each day of the campaign
Game of Thrones: Visit the real-life kingdom of Westeros to see where violent history ends and telly tourism begins

The real-life kingdom of Westeros

Is there something a little uncomfortable about Game of Thrones shooting in Northern Ireland?
How to survive a social-media mauling, by the tough women of Twitter

How to survive a Twitter mauling

Mary Beard, Caroline Criado-Perez, Louise Mensch, Bunny La Roche and Courtney Barrasford reveal how to trounce the trolls
Gallipoli centenary: At dawn, the young remember the young who perished in one of the First World War's bloodiest battles

At dawn, the young remember the young

A century ago, soldiers of the Empire – many no more than boys – spilt on to Gallipoli’s beaches. On this 100th Anzac Day, there are personal, poetic tributes to their sacrifice
Dissent is slowly building against the billions spent on presidential campaigns – even among politicians themselves

Follow the money as never before

Dissent is slowly building against the billions spent on presidential campaigns – even among politicians themselves, reports Rupert Cornwell
Samuel West interview: The actor and director on austerity, unionisation, and not mentioning his famous parents

Samuel West interview

The actor and director on austerity, unionisation, and not mentioning his famous parents
General Election 2015: Imagine if the leading political parties were fashion labels

Imagine if the leading political parties were fashion labels

Fashion editor, Alexander Fury, on what the leaders' appearances tell us about them
Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka: Home can be the unsafest place for women

Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka: Home can be the unsafest place for women

The architect of the HeForShe movement and head of UN Women on the world's failure to combat domestic violence
Public relations as 'art'? Surely not

Confessions of a former PR man

The 'art' of public relations is being celebrated by the V&A museum, triggering some happy memories for DJ Taylor
Bill Granger recipes: Our chef succumbs to his sugar cravings with super-luxurious sweet treats

Bill Granger's luxurious sweet treats

Our chef loves to stop for 30 minutes to catch up on the day's gossip, while nibbling on something sweet
London Marathon 2015: Paula Radcliffe and the mother of all goodbyes

The mother of all goodbyes

Paula Radcliffe's farewell to the London Marathon will be a family affair
Everton vs Manchester United: Steven Naismith demands 'better' if Toffees are to upset the odds against United

Steven Naismith: 'We know we must do better'

The Everton forward explains the reasons behind club's decline this season
Arsenal vs Chelsea: Praise to Arsene Wenger for having the courage of his convictions

Michael Calvin's Last Word

Praise to Wenger for having the courage of his convictions