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on 2 August 2001
When the Art of Captaincy first came out in 1985, memories of the swashbuckling capture of the Ashes in 1981 were still vivid in many people's minds. Although this is no longer the case, Brearley's work is equally applicable to the drive for success in any field and the man-management skills required of any successful leader.
Nonetheless cricket is its prime focus, and the characters of Brearley's age such as Botham, Willis and Gower still capture the imagination as brilliant competitors and, more importantly for Brearley, as leaders of the England side. Honest in his exposition of his contemporaries' flaws as captains, the author never belittles their integrity as individuals, helping his own objective analysis to be respected on its own merits. Whilst the revised edition pays no more than token regard to the current resurgence under Hussain and Fletcher, Brearley's expert psycho-analytical approach stands the test of time.
With helpful insight into man management of players and selectors alike, as well as a detailed background to the less glamorous administrative and logistical duties of a county captain, Brearley has much to offer to captains and players at all levels of the game.
The lucid and elegant prose makes for an extremely readable and readily digestible work, and the author's beguiling modesty and understated humanity widen its accessibility beyond the ordinary fanatic for our national game.
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on 13 January 2006
This seminal work on captaincy has never been matched. Brearley's ideas on cricket captaincy show a huge understanding of the game and of the human mind.
Overall a must for any cricketer old enough to read with a desire to captain a cricket side at whatever level.
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VINE VOICEon 18 December 2008
Mike Brearley's book is a thorough insight into the pressures, challenges and pleasures of captaining a cricket team. Brearley's reputation as captain is, of course, legendary, and although he played before my time, reading this book made it clear why he was such a gifted captain. His analytical skill is phenomenal; the anecdotes he recounts of obtaining wickets with unorthodox methods are a real testimony to his skill and the obvious effect he had on team members in persuading them to follow his plans. Reading this would improve anyone's captaincy - the attitudes towards field placing, questioning so many of the conventions, how to manage bowling changes and how to react to the match situation reflect a highly professional approach. Brearley is candid about his own successes and failures, acknowledges the influence of other great captains, and provides many telling anecdotes. Well worth reading for any cricket lover.
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on 9 October 2011
If you like cricket, books on aspects of cricket history and cricket memoir are wonderfully entertaining as they tell a good story. However, most such books fail to give the reader much insight or understanding of the complexities that you need to understand the essentially simple game of cricket. Overlapping on both historical text and memoir, Brearley's book fills that gap perfectly. Cricket has countless nuances and Brearley expertly covers most of them here, in a way that not only entertains but informs. No other cricket book I have read covers tactics, strategies and tips as thoroughly as this one. Not suitable as an introduction to cricket in itself but an essential text for those wishing to further understand the subtleties of cricket.

Also serves as an insight on wider leadership issues too, not just cricket. Those with responsiblity for managing people in the workplace and similar areas would be well advised to read, study and apply any lessons learned.

A truly magnificent book - we await the Kindle version! :)
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on 29 March 2015
The fact that this is the definitive reference for any aspiring, or existing cricket captain is without doubt. Reading it should certainly be a pre-requisite for any potential England captain (sadly, I suspect that this has not been the case in recent years).
However, I have two main gripes about this book. One is that it should not be referenced to Sam Mendes, who only wrote the forward.
The second is the number of spelling, grammatical and other errors that litter the text. I have never read a book with so many typos. It left me somewhat exasperated and wondering if an editor has ever so much as glanced at it.
Despite numerous changes in the rules of the game and indeed the manner in which it is played, this book is still relevant today. But it desperately needs re-editing.
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on 21 August 2015
Unsung hero of 1981. Mike Brearley systemically takes you through the art of captaincy. He teaches upcoming captains to have foresight even from a young age. Must read for budding captains of any sport and cricket fans
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on 16 April 2009
Mike Brearly who is renowned for his strategic leadership of the English cricket team shares his knowledge and experience on practices, tactics and strategy for anyone desiring to be a successful cricket captain at any level. Most lessons are equally applicable to other team based sports as well to business. The numerous cricketing incidents and stories are a feast for the cricket enthusiast as well as a great learning resource for anyone looking for a greater understanding about cricket. The insightful nature of the narrative based on empirical knowledge, the masterly handling of language and the easy, reader friendly style adds to a remarkable reading experience which I savoured.
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TOP 500 REVIEWERon 9 February 2012
First thing you need to know; this book isn't by Sam Mendes, who only wrote the foreword! It's by Mike Brearley, England captain for one of cricket's most interesting periods.

Most readers will come to this book through a love of cricket and, as cricket-lovers are often intelligent, thoughtful people, few will be disappointed. Brearley is a qualified psychologist, and his training shows not only in the way he approached the post of captain, but in his ability to understand the complex nature of what goes on during a game of cricket, with all its tactical subtleties and unexpected developments.

Though cricket shapes this book, its subject is captaincy in a much wider sense. And its lessons on getting best from people may be applied in many walks of life, not just sport, not just - as others have noticed - business. Someone I know used to teach leadership skills in public service, with a special emphasis on "managing change" (something needed all to often in public service). His core texts were this book, Machiavelli's The Prince (Penguin Classics), and Gramsci's Prison Notebooks: Selections. This combination has also proved very fruitful for another acquaintance, engaged in organising and developing in a multinational business.

And on top of all that, it's beautifully written with a gentle, dry wit. A huge number of illustrations, from every era, are inset in the text. That atmosphere of gentlemanly conduct and fair play, so integral to cricket at its best, is in evidence on every page. If you like this kind of cerebral, stimulating, cricket stuff, you might enjoy a book which Brearley also recommends, the great C L R James' Beyond A Boundary.
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on 25 July 2015
As a club cricketer and coach for 52 years, I first knew this book first in the 1970's when I got Mike Brearley to put a congratulatory message in it as a prize for a Colt of the Year. This book is a complete and necessary read for all cricketers, let alone captains and the reprint which I bought for the club captain (who already had the original) to hand round younger players to read, is brilliantly enhanced by the forward of Sam Mendes.
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on 3 May 2014
Well written book by an accomplished expert in his field. Not a superb batsman but an inspirational leader of men
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