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A Lot of Hard Yakka: Triumph and Torment - A County Cricketer's Life [Paperback]

Simon Hughes
4.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (28 customer reviews)
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Book Description

2 April 1998
Between 1980 and 1993, Simon Hughes was a regular on the county circuit, playing for Middlesex until 1991 before moving on to Durham at the end of his career. In that time, he played alongside some of the great characters in cricket: Mike Brearley, Mike Gatting, Phil Edmonds and Ian Botham. This is not an autobiography of a good county pro, but a look at the ups and downs, the lifestyle, the practical jokes and sheer hard yakka that make such a poorly paid, insecure job appeal to so many. Now a respected journalist and broadcaster, Simon Hughes has written a brilliant, amusing and wrily self-depracating book, packed with hilarious and embarrassing anecdotes about some of the greatest cricketers of the last 20 years.

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Product details

  • Paperback: 320 pages
  • Publisher: Headline; New Ed edition (2 April 1998)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0747255164
  • ISBN-13: 978-0747255161
  • Product Dimensions: 13.2 x 19.7 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (28 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 42,211 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

Simon Hughes is Channel Five's 'The Analyst' and the author of a number of bestselling cricket books. Middlesex fast bowler turned broadcaster, he is one of contemporary cricket's most admired writers and analysts with sharp technical insights to the sport. His extravagantly praised A Lot of Hard Yakka is seen as the defining account of the life of a country cricket professional.

Product Description


You won't read a better inside story of cricket and the men who play it for a living. Vigorous, funny and full of insight from a gifted observer. It was a book waiting to be written and Simon Hughes has done it. (Michael Parkinson)

Terrific. (Harold Pinter)

A devastating account of English cricket and its shortcomings... The book describes the shocking lack of ambition, dedication, coaching and leadership in English cricket. (Mike Brearley, Observer)

A brilliant commentary on the life of a county cricketer. (Mike Selvey, Guardian)

You will never read a better book about the bizarre circus known as county cricket ... a very funny, often outrageous book. (Ian Wooldridge, Daily Mail)

Hughes may never have scaled the heights as a cricketer, but he has become a wonderful writer on the sport ... gaspingly candid ... One thing is clear from this book - he had a really good time. So will anyone sensible enough to read it. (Marcus Berkmann, Daily Telegraph)

Sharp and funny ... his book sails neatly between self-glorification and self-pity and lays bare the real truth of the athlete: a dark life of angst and self-doubt lit by sudden piercing shafts of transcendent adequacy. (Simon Barnes, The Times)

May be the first cricketer's autobiography ever to tell it like it is, from dressing-room to bedroom ... Hughes is rivetingly unguarded. (Tim de Lisle, Wisden Cricket Monthly)

As life-lived-through-sport, it is pure Hornby ... The book that cricket needed. (Simon Wilde, The Times)

Book Description

Winner of the William Hill Sports Book of the Year

Inside This Book (Learn More)
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Front Cover | Copyright | Table of Contents | Excerpt | Back Cover
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Customer Reviews

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews
7 of 7 people found the following review helpful
By A Customer
From his introduction to the sport, through his successful years at Middlessex and his less successful years at Durham to his career in journalism, Simon Hughes recounts what life is really like in the world of county cricket. Iniatially seen as an England player, Hughes deals with his own failings like he deals with the successes of others, with good humour and accuracy. This book doesn't try to glamourise cricketers, or make them seem 'charity' cases, they are merely described as men who are lucky enough to get some payment for playing a sport. You learn of the drudgery, endless travelling and routine as well as the camararderie and excitement professional sport can deliver. Hughes' style is light and uncomplicated, the book flows nicely, is never bogged down in detail or stays too long on individuals. Ideal for anyone who after being out hitting a six into the sea needs a good read whilst they sulk about their maligned talent. Buy this one for dad.
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10 of 10 people found the following review helpful
By russell clarke TOP 500 REVIEWER VINE VOICE
I,ve read a lot of books on cricket.This is the only one i read repeatedly.Hughes is an engaging bloke doing his analysts job on Channel 4 but this gives no indication as to his wealth of cricketing anecdotes or the warm humour he brings to them, for essentially this is a warm and very funny book.It is also in it,s understated way a scathing critique of the county set up and of English professional cricket in general.
What makes this book particually likeable is that Hughes does,nt spare himself from his occasional bouts of withering scorn noting wryly that after a persistent no-ball problem he realised at last that he ,d better get his run up sorted out.Something of a must for any fast bowler i would say.The lack of profesionalism not to mention inate cowardice of many first class cricketers is a constant theme.So is the resemblance in so many ways to "normal" working lifes, the frustrations, the ennui and most noticeably the constant banter and p*** taking.
Hughes grasp of his fellow cricketers pecadiloes and idiosyncracities is perceptive and ball bouncingly funny.Gattings prodigous appetite,Edmonds intellectual snobbery,Daniels eye for the ladies, Bothams monstrous self confidence are all captured superbly but he,s as generous with praise as he is with disdain and alway gives a balanced view on everyone he writes about.
Some of the anecdotes are priceless.Brealey letting rip with a fearsome expletetive filled volley over the heads of M.C.C. members at Lords,Tufnells less than impressive entrance when coming out to bat,Emburey,s hilarious reply to an innocent enquiry as to the state of his back and numerous accounts of the banter out in the middle and in the dressing room.Great stuff.
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7 of 7 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The best I've ever read. 14 Oct 2000
By A Customer
I am young and I don't read much and I was given this book for a present. I didn't even pick it up for ages but once I started reading it I found it fascinating. You discover the most bizarre stories which made me laugh for ages and discover some of the biggest characters in the game. You realise the lack of motivation in cricketers as well which is what possibly leads to our national side's continued failure. Hughes takes you through all the emotions of being a professional cricketer, both on and off the field. This book is so easy to follow and so fascinating to read. I've started reading the second book which is good but not quite as good as this book and I'm going to have to read it again soon!
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
The key characteristic of Hughes' book is how cricket has changed since his 1980s-early 90s playing career. His descriptions of the catering at Lords are barely believable with three course lunches (including roast beef, Yorkshire pudding and syrup sponge, washed down by litres of tea; how would Flintoff and co. play after putting away that lot we must wonder. The insights into the team are riveting. These are players in the world's top cricket league yet they have to hold down off-season jobs, and have the constant risk of being "let go" at the end of every season; even when their county grants them a benefit year the player does all of the organising of benefit events! The highlight though was the description of the umpires dismissing batsmen lbw because they couldn't stand the low calibre "banter" between batsman and bowler. If only the same umpire had officiated in Steve Waugh's matches. Excellent stuff.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars English cricket unmasked. 25 Aug 1999
By A Customer
A lot of hard yakka? Certainly not reading this wonderful book. Simon Hughes' dissection of English county cricket is actue, informed and funny. Like all good autobiography, Hughes is not shy about his own foibles, be they on the field of play or at the more dangerous sport of marriage. He has a natural facility for great stories, delivered at a brisk fast-medium. Haynes' two sixes, the second landing before the first, and the arrival of a muppet at the wicket are simply hilarious. The serious thoughts on the parlous state of country cricket are told wisely and sensibly too. Any cricket lover will finish this book at one sitting: even marginal cricket fans will be bemused and charmed. Get it.
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10 of 11 people found the following review helpful
Perhaps I'm biassed. After all, I'm a student who'd love to play for Middlesex (and, like Hughes, their training runs go past my back garden). The difference is that I'm no good at cricket. But Hughes never quite loses the sense of wonder at his own ability - or good fortune - that so many young cricketers would feel given the chance to play for their county. It's this love for the game that pervades the book. Add to that good humour and insider knowledge and you have a winning combination. If you are a county-cricket wannabe, or if you were twenty years ago, you simply must read this book. And if you wondered what it was like to play when England actually won things you should read it too. Hell, you should just read it anyway. You'll love it.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars great read
Really good book about life as a county cricketer - the ups, the downs and the amusing events that happen behind the dressing room door!
Published 1 month ago by oilbaron
5.0 out of 5 stars Brilliant.
Great book with some wonderful stories. A real pleasure to read but an author at the top of his game.
Published 2 months ago by Dibbsy
5.0 out of 5 stars Great read
If you ever wondered what life is like on the county circuit then read this. Well written in an easy style, full of the highs and lows in the life of a professional cricketer. Read more
Published 6 months ago by Buck
5.0 out of 5 stars simply the best
This is quite simply the best cricket biography-type book I have ever read.

Full of entertaining insight. Read more
Published 9 months ago by Shoaib
4.0 out of 5 stars NOSTALGIA
For a book that is not that old , it relates to another world. The names flash across the book. The world it describes appears chaotic , but there is a warmth and honesty. Read more
Published 10 months ago by Adrian
5.0 out of 5 stars Great!
Really funny and uncompromisingly truthful book about the greatest game there is. Cricket is life. Failure followed by success followed by failure.
Published 11 months ago by Alan White
5.0 out of 5 stars No need to go to the DRS on this one.
A fascinating insight into the ups and downs of a journeyman county cricketer. The sign of a good auto-biography is if you can hear the person speaking to you whilst reading it.
Published 11 months ago by Mr. N. J. Reynolds
4.0 out of 5 stars Interesting
As a cricket fan for the last 50 years I found this an interesting and honest account of behind the scenes life for county cricketers. Read more
Published 11 months ago by Guido 7
4.0 out of 5 stars Well written and good fun
I bought this years ago in paperback, and decided to buy it again via Kindle. I enjoyed it every bit as much as before. Read more
Published 12 months ago by Mike G
5.0 out of 5 stars Brilliant!
The funniest book I have read in year. This is a cracking insight in to the world of county cricket whilst also being a comedy master class.
Published 12 months ago by Jean-Paul Rochebouet
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