The Faber Book of Cricket by Michael Davie and Simon Davie (eds) - review by Hilary Mantel

Hilary Mantel

How do You Expect to Score?

The Faber Book of Cricket


Faber & Faber 365pp £9.95 order from our bookshop

Every anthology must have a governing principle, and for this one it is ‘Cricket isn’t a game; it’s a way of life.’ But there’s a central melancholy fact to be considered: as Jack Fingleton put it, ‘There is a moment in every cricketer’s life when he’s seen; another moment he’s no more, nor ever will be again...’ Cricket writing keeps the life going, beyond the end of a career or any natural span, and the editors have made a lively and balanced selection which takes us from John Nyren on the Hambledon men to that recent elegant memoir Thommo Declares, and from a team riot in the Solomon Islands to last year’s (by comparison) genteel row at Taunton. They have chosen shorter pieces than those in the irreplaceable Cricketer’s Companion, and they have arranged them by abstract categories, not chronologically. This works well, because it creates interesting connections between different eras.

There is a literary bias to the selection, which, the editors say, ‘dignifies the enterprise.’ It’s true that the literary person’s respect for cricket isn’t always reciprocated – W G Grace once demanded of a bookish batsman, ‘How do you expect to score if you’re always reading?’ – and one

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