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10 of 10 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Gratuitously amusing account of a County Cricketers lot., 2 Feb 2004
By 
russell clarke "stipesdoppleganger" (halifax, west yorks) - See all my reviews
(TOP 500 REVIEWER)    (VINE VOICE)   
This review is from: A Lot of Hard Yakka: Triumph and Torment - A County Cricketer's Life (Paperback)
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.
"A lot of hard Yakka" is a refreshing change from the dry ghost written accounts of high profile careers cricketers usually churn out.It,s candid ,balanced wildly entertaining and i,ll say it again snot sprayingly funny.Now thats not bad for any book let alone one about cricket.
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7 of 7 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A 'journeymans' tale of life on the county cricket circuit, 26 July 1999
By A Customer
This review is from: A Lot of Hard Yakka: Triumph and Torment - A County Cricketer's Life (Paperback)
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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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
This review is from: A Lot of Hard Yakka: Triumph and Torment - A County Cricketer's Life (Paperback)
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
4.0 out of 5 stars An excellent overview of what happens in "the middle", 9 Jun 2006
By 
Caterkiller (Darlington, UK) - See all my reviews
This review is from: A Lot of Hard Yakka: Triumph and Torment - A County Cricketer's Life (Paperback)
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
This review is from: A Lot of Hard Yakka: Triumph and Torment - A County Cricketer's Life (Paperback)
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
5.0 out of 5 stars An articulate and humourous account of the game Hughes loves, 1 Oct 1999
This review is from: A Lot of Hard Yakka: Triumph and Torment - A County Cricketer's Life (Paperback)
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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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A must for all cricket fans!, 12 Nov 2003
By 
Viddy (Ilford, Essex United Kingdom) - See all my reviews
This review is from: A Lot of Hard Yakka: Triumph and Torment - A County Cricketer's Life (Paperback)
This is a biography of Simon Hughes' days as a county cricketer. Most people who have an interest in the sport only see the games played at the very level - international cricket. Hughes' book is a humourous, entertaining account of his 20 years as a decent county pro.
Not only is it an excellent account of a life of a cricketer, it's a great read for those who have no interest in the game. Many of the stories can be identified with by people in all careers and is a ggood account of an individual's life.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Quality !!!, 20 July 2006
By 
DavyA (Newcastle Upon Tyne, UK) - See all my reviews
(TOP 1000 REVIEWER)   
This review is from: A Lot of Hard Yakka: Triumph and Torment - A County Cricketer's Life (Paperback)
Written like a football biography but with a pinch of Wisden.One of the best cricket books I have ever read (in fact one of the best sporting books I have ever read) - well written & informal, it gives us an insight into the gritty, less glamorous life of a county cricketer & shares the doubts, anxieties, fears , ambitions, achievements & humour of the protaganists.
This preceeds the very good "Yakking Around The World" (which is also worth a punt)but is an even better read.
If you buy one cricket "biography" , this should be it. Witty & well written, highly recommended.
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8 of 9 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars I learned a great deal about cricket, 30 July 2001
This review is from: A Lot of Hard Yakka: Triumph and Torment - A County Cricketer's Life (Paperback)
Being Scottish I have always viewed cricket from the outside. The only knowledge I have of the game comes from watching television, when it is usually the highest level that is shown. Simon Hughes has opened my eyes to the other side of the coin, how the cricketer who does not quite make it spends his sporting life. I can certainly recommend this book to anyone who has a passing interest in this wonderful sport.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Insight into the county cricket scene, 14 Sep 2009
By 
Darren Simons (Middlesex, United Kingdom) - See all my reviews
(TOP 500 REVIEWER)   
This review is from: A Lot of Hard Yakka: Triumph and Torment - A County Cricketer's Life (Paperback)
Simon Hughes is an ex-Middlesex fast bowler who played for the club across two of the best generations of teams Middlesex has produced... at various times the team includes players such as Mike Gatting, Des Haynes, John Emburey, Mark Ramprakash, Phil Edmonds, Paul Downton, Wayne Daniel, Phil Tufnell and Angus Fraser . Alongside these players Hughes portrays himself as "another county player"... someone good enough hold his place down in the county team but never quite good enough (although sometimes close) to extending on to the International scene. His insight into the county game makes interesting reading.

In A Lot Of Old Yakka, Hughes talks through his career via a diary he evidently kept throughout this time. He speaks about how he became a regular in the team, his times (and frustrations) of being 12th man, his contemporaries (and how they developed at Middlesex and elsewhere) and most significantly the atmosphere in the dressing room. He speaks almost over-scathingly of some of his teammates' behaviour (whether it's Mike Gatting's appetite, John Emburey's swearing or Phil Edmonds' business deals) for what is definitely a highly entertaining and interesting read.

In terms of recommending the book - it is definitely an insight into county cricket and from a player who has seen it all. However, there's a part of me that reads a certain bitterness in Hughes's writing throughout it all... he certainly never criticises the ability of his colleagues (he is especially complimentary about Gatting and Fraser) but alongside it all there seems to be a thread of "I could have done that" which just doesn't sit right with me. The latter chapters talking about his move to Durham and time spent with Botham seem to illustrate this even more.

So do I recommend it? Yes I do.. it gives an insight into the life and perhaps more importantly the mind of a county cricketer with definite ability but the need to define a career for themselves after they finished playing. I would say Hughes has succeeded in both of those.
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