Ilove cricket, played a bit, and have attended matches all my life. However, it was always apparent that the game was administered by Neanderthals in blazers, representing what was worst about the English Establishment: class-ridden, duplicitous, at times racist, Blimpish, inefficient, and above all complacent. In short, its failings were a microcosm of much that was wrong with England beyond the boundary.
Guy Fraser-Sampson (something of a polymath: lawyer, financial adviser, business school lecturer, writer) sees the great game in much the same way. His new book focuses on the decade in which cricket moved, via such earthquakes as the D’Oliveira affair, from Gentlemen (amateurs) and Players (professionals), with administrators who firmly favoured the former, into the era of Kerry Packer, ‘pyjama’ games, and bowling so dangerous that it was a wonder no one was killed.
Fraser-Sampson weaves what was happening on the pitch – he is very good at potted accounts of Test matches, conveying the highlights without becoming entangled in the minutiae – with the politics of the Marylebone Cricket Club (MCC) and the selectors. He comes down decisively on the side of the