Tired out by my futile search for sporting excellence, I was given an early copy of Not Out First Ball to read. Subtitled 'The Art of Being Beaten in Beautiful Places', this life-affirming book speaks straight to the soul of those who were never blessed with sporting brilliance, and yet love sport. It raises a flag for those who feel that lack of ability should never be a bar to participation. Above all, it brings great bucketfuls of laughter as you recognise situation after situation that you have experienced yourself but never dared to set down on paper. Not Out First Ball succeeds because it is based on a love affair between the authors and the sport they pathetically try to play. Characters are richly drawn and gently mocked. It avoids the temptation, so common in recent attempts at the genre, to base an entire book on unfunny stories of middle-aged men getting drunk on a cricket tour of the Channel Islands. --Richard Mackay
About the Author
Roger Morgan-Grenville is 51, has a career batting average of 14.286 and sells kitchenware. Richard Perkins is 54, has a career bowling average of 36.585 and sells trees.