on 17 February 2013
Many players have written their diary of an English county cricket season and I have a fair number of them in my library. Few of them are as well known or as well loved as Jon Agnew, who has taken over to a large degree the Brian Johnson role in Test Match Special.
This book recounts the 1988 cricket season, one in which, despite bowling his heart out and having enormous success and despite England's at time almost comic struggles to field a side, Jon Agnew failed to add to his 3 caps from 1984/85. He recounts with great dignity the saga of how captain David Gower, struggling to field fast bowlers during an injury crisis, told Jon that he was in the side, only to be over-ruled and see the "17th choice fast bowler", Kent's Alan Igglesdon, play instead. Jon Agnew's frustration and bewilderment at Engand selection issues is clear and frequently stated. It is not surprising that he decided that broadcasting offered a safer and more secure future to a player who had only a few years left at the top and who felt that, after repeated snubs, that he had no chance of further higher honours.
This is a good book and an excellent read. Possibly it is not the best of its kind, but it does have the benefit of actually being written by the author and not ghosted as so many books of its type are. It also gives an insight into just how English cricket had allowed itself to get into such an apalling mess as it was in in 1988 and from which it would take a dozen years to start to extricate itself.
on 29 October 2011
Jonathan Agnew is well-known as the head of BBC Cricket commentary and Test Match Special. Not so many people realise that he was once a fast bowler for Leicestershire and England. This book is a diary of an English season in the late '80s when he was trying to get himself back in the England team.
The book is well-written, funny, insightful, subtle and all the characteristics that you would expect from someone renowned for his agreable way with words in the commentary box. It is also useful in its bigger picture portrayal of what was wrong with county cricket in England and Wales at that time and particularly how poor selection policy used to be during those dark days for English cricket on the international stage.
This is an incredibly easy read and I, for one, could hardly bare to put it down. So why not "five stars" you might ask. No fault of J. Agnew's, I reply. Simply because the number of spelling mistakes and errors by the publishers is appalling. We can live with the odd one, but not a couple of dozen. Indeed, at one point, the score at the end of one day's play is recorded wrong, making the next page illogical until you realise the publisher's mistake. Spell-checking does not get much more shoddy than this!
Even so, these errors are not enough to stop this from being a fine, fine read.