Book review: No-Balls and Googlies by Geoff Tibballs
As Test match cricket enjoys a resurgence of interest, thanks in no small part to Lancashire’s Andrew Flintoff and the unforgettable series against Australia in 2005, what better time to take a closer look at this inimitable game?
Cricket, as Geoff Tibballs points out in this coruscating cricketing cornucopia, is such a quintessentially English game and one ironically so ill-suited to the weather of a quintessentially English summer.
Many foreigners find it difficult to see the point of a game which you can play for five days and still not get a result, but that would be to miss the point.
From its earliest beginnings in a game called ‘creag’ played in Kent in the 14th century and banned by Edward III who wanted his archers to practise without any sporting distraction, cricket has appealed to the whole spectrum of English society.
From the humble blacksmith to the lord of the manor and from Mick Jagger to John Major, cricket is part of the fabric of English society.
And no sport has a more fascinating background than this elegant game of skill, grace and tactics which has seen many developments over the centuries and yet whose spirit has remained largely unchanged.
Its long-established and distinguished position in the annals of sporting history has awarded it a special place in the hearts of its followers and continues to baffle those not familiar with its intricacies and peculiarities.
The word cricket derives from the Anglo-Saxon word cric, meaning a staff or crutch, giving us a game played with a long wooden implement and leading to its first (reliable) mention at Guildford in the 16th century.
No-Balls and Googlies uncovers the origins of this captivating game, and explores its traditions, records, milestones and memorable moments through a fascinating array of facts and figures, anecdotes and curiosities.
For example, did you know that the first international match took place between the United States and Canada, or that the first laws of cricket were drawn up in 1744?
Many cricket fans might also not be aware that Hambledon Club of Hampshire, founded around 1767, is generally perceived as cricket’s spiritual home or that British and Australian troops conducted their own Desert Ashes series in Iraq in 2005.
Tibballs, a lifelong cricket fan, also provides an amusing insight into the game’s eccentric characters and presents a wealth of trivia, stories and quotations from the sport’s illustrious past.
From the leg glance to leg before, king pair to cover drive, and from the no-ball to the googly, this book is the perfect companion for cricket fanatics the world over and guaranteed to entertain, inform and delight.
(Michael O’Mara, hardback, £9.99)