“Even the Australians have embraced Gough's exuberant brand of cricket. While their perception of the Poms is of trying to take Australia's castle by swimming the moat (and mostly drowning), Gough bursts through the front door and swings from the chandeliers. Some of the others would not enjoy the Errol Flynn approach for fear of laddering their tights.”
[MARTIN JOHNSON on the England Ashes tour of 1994/95]
Martin Johnson is the kind of writer who can make you burst out in laughter one minute and have you tearing your hair out the next.
Yet despite the fact that his bizarre sense of humour may threaten to send cricket traditionalists to an early grave, there has never been any doubt about Johnson's deep-rooted knowledge and love of the game he has covered for nearly 25 years, currently for the 'Daily Telegraph'.
As a staff sportswriter at the ' Leicester Mercury' from 1974, Johnson was nicknamed 'Scoop' by Ray Illingworth and enjoyed a dedicating following for his chronicling of Leicestershire CCC. Moving to the ' Independent' in 1986 , he kept cricket lovers in stitches even as the England team entered the long, arduous, and often gloomy process of rebuilding. As for controversy, his 'They can't bat, they can't bowl, and they can't field' description of England's performances in Australia in 1986 hit a jangling nerve and has echoed down the years ever since.
This wide-ranging collection of Johnson's best writing includes examples of his earlier work and cameos of his reports for the national press over the course of a decade. The core of the book is Johnson's reporting of Test matches and limited-overs internationals involving England, but there are also examples of his brilliant player-profiles as well as articles on cricket's great games.
Whether reporting on poundings from the West Indian pace bowlers, batterings by the Australian run machine, or slagging matches with Pakistan, Martin Johnson has always managed to combine colour and comedy with sharp-eyed analysis – guaranteeing for himself a place in the cricket writers' hall of fame.
Andrew Green is best-known as the presenter of a range of music programmes on BBC Radio's 3 and 4, as well as the World Service. He also writes on the subject for a number of national newspapers and magazines. Cricket, however, has been his lifelong passion. Apart from working on 'Test Match Special', he has written on the game for 'Wisden Cricket Monthly', the 'Sunday Telegraph' and the 'Sunday Express'. Currently chairman of the music committee of the Lord's Taverners, he lives in Hertfordshire with his wife, the soprano Elizabeth Lane, and two budding Ian Bothams.