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4.2 out of 5 stars18
4.2 out of 5 stars
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on 27 October 2010
Duncan Hamilton has followed up his brilliant biography of Harold Larwood with a delightful trawl through the 2009 cricket season taking in first-class, Lancashire League and Village Cup. Hamilton is particularly keen on the County Championship and has some concerns about its survival. He finds the four day match much to his liking even though at times attendances are sparse. However, with his splendid prose and his obvious love of the game, he paints some beautiful pictures with which all serious cricket watchers can identify. He has concerns about the effect that Twenty Twenty might have on cricket in the future but remembers the similar gloomy forecasts expressed by well known writers of the game when the Sunday League was introduced forty years ago. Cricket in the form Hamilton prefers survived that period and eventually all lovers of the game found space for the truncated version. The book is very well laid out with excellent appendages and index. Short listed for the William Hill Sports Book of 2010, Hamilton could well do the "hat trick" having won this prestigious award with masterpieces about Brian Clough(2007) and Harold Larwood(2009). This book takes the form of historical reminiscences, personal memories and up to date comment and opinion and is dedicated to Hamilton`s grandfather who taught him to love both cricket and libraries. Highy recommended.
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on 10 August 2010
The problem with this book is the publishers' hype. It's a perfectly pleasant read with, in places, extremely shrewd insights into the past, present and future of English cricket. But the 2009 cricket season simply wasn't the "seminal, convulsing season" that the publishers maintain in their blurb. The book isn't some sort of vaguely diagnostic analysis of English cricket's predicament, as they imply. And the 2009 season isn't "preserved" by Duncan Hamilton beyond the particular twenty or so matches he attended. I suspect none of this is the author's fault.

So don't expect a great deal about the Ashes series. Hamilton saw the Australians' county game at Worcester, two days of the Edgbaston test and the final one day international in late September at the Riverside. Those are the only mentions of the Australian tour. Issues such as central contracts and the availability of the Ashes series only on pay-TV - which feature prominently on the book-jacket - warrant only fleeting mentions. And Allen Stanford not at all.

Instead, what you get is Duncan Hamilton's highly personal reflections as he attends a selection of games intended to represent the diversity of English cricket, from village, club and Lancashire League games to an Under 19 international at Scarborough, the Friends Provident Final at Lord's and the Sri Lanka v West Indies group game from the Twenty20 World Cup. He writes about the contemporary issues that matter to him, such as the problem of spectator drunkenness and how much he hates T20 cricket, and not at all about others.

The book is as much about the stories and characters from cricket's past inspired by the cricketing action as it is about what happens in these games (although I thought one strength of the book was how well the author writes about the action in front of him). So there are frequent digressions about, among many others, W G Grace's last test match, Bradman's double centuries at Worcester, cricket writers J M Kilburn and R C Robertson-Glasgow, the Jack Warner movie The Final Test, early cricket at Hambledon, Ted Peate's unmarked grave, and infighting at Yorkshire CCC down the generations.

You will probably love this book if your taste in cricket is romantic and nostalgic. But I rather tired of hearing how things were better in cricket's past than today. Indeed, in the first half of the book it seemed that the modern game had not a single redeeming feature when compared with days of yore, and I wouldn't have been surprised to find the pages turning sepia before my very eyes. Later on the analysis becomes more balanced, particularly after the author reads in old cricket magazines from the early 1970s how similar to his own views about T20 were the apocalyptic statements from the cricket establishment about the new 40-over John Player League, and how it could be the death knell for longer forms of the game.

Please don't let me put you off trying the book. It's full of interesting things and the author writes very well. It's just that it isn't quite what you might think from the publishers' claims and is also somehow less than the sum of its parts. But some parts are really first class, among them: the description of cricket at Scarborough, a brief couple of pages on Herbert Sutcliffe and, especially, his analysis of Ricky Ponting which was as good as anything I've ever read about the Australian captain.
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on 19 August 2010
For many, sadly, Cricket is just about T20, The Barmy Army, fancy dress and corporate days out! But like a considerable number of us who still love this great game, like Duncan Hamilton, it is about so much more.

As a member of Cambridge University CC, days reflecting in the sunshine, whilst watching a game of cricket slowly unfold is near to a perfect form of relaxation as you can find, unless Facebook, Wii's, computers games etc are your bag!

Within this book Hamilton looks at so much that is being lost in Cricket, the wonderful outgrounds around the UK for example, rarely used by some counties now as they hold every event at their County Ground, maybe to pay for a monstrousity of a new stand? Stand up Lancashire CCC.
The way the once vibrant Lancashire league has slowly slipped out of the consciousness of the local population, great summer festivals such as Cheltenham College, Colchester and Scarborough. Sadly though these are becoming fewer year on year.

I guess this is a little bit of a 'marmite'book, if you like the smash and grab of a few pints and a T20 slog you may get little from it, however if a day at Arundel Castle watching a County Cricket match unfold(players in white), is your bag then you will get so much from it.

Cricket at this level still has something unobtainable I believe from any other sport and rather than deride it, we should look to promote it and encourage people back into watching the county game. I fear though in reality that with so many other attractions and what seems many people's short concentration span these days, a day at the cricket will become the enjoyment of fewer and fewer people year on year.

Call me nostalgic and a romantic, i've no problem with that, in fact I hope to remain that way for the rest of my life as I continue to enjoy the greatest of games!
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on 15 July 2011
This is an imaginative and anecdotal journey around the English cricket scene
during one summer. It revives memories of the game stretching beyond the
'first-class' game, which has become just another multi-million entertainment.
Duncan Hamilton has re-generated the spirit of cricket on the village green and
Test matches, with the former providing much that could civilise the finance-driven
limited over matches and Test arenas.

Hamilton is reminiscent of Cardus, Swanton and Arlott, God rest their souls!
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on 14 September 2011
This is a pleasant read, with Hamilton traipsing around the country calling in at various cricket grounds. The journey is supposed to be a canvas for Hamilton thoughts on modern cricket, but the idea that 2009 is a watershed moment for cricket just doesn't hold up to scrutiny. Instead, I get the impression that Hamilton and his publishers wanted a book that was easy to write and quick to produce, knowing that they'd have a best seller on their hands after the success of Hamilton's two previous offerings. Other than T20 cricket - during which Hamilton is at risk of coming across as a bit of a dinosaur, unwilling to embrace the modern game - he makes little attempt to make truly insightful comments about cricket. Don't get me wrong, this isn't badly written, it's just disappointing considering what I know Hamilton is capable of. Stick to biography!
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VINE VOICEon 20 September 2012
Acclaimed sports-writer Duncan Hamilton records his travels around Britain during the 2009 cricket season, offering comments on matches ranging from the Ashes to domestic T20 and amateur village cricket. His writing is a superb combination of reporting, history and reflection on the nature of the game. While the book is undeniably nostalgic, Hamilton acknowledges this himself, and reflects that cricket means many different things to people who watch and play it in its various guises. Those in sympathy with Hamilton's view, preferring test and championship cricket to T20 and bemoaning the lack of cohesion in the domestic game will probably find most here to relate to. Very enjoyable.
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on 15 August 2012
Duncan Hamilton is a true cricket lover and that love shines through every word he has written. His use of English is excellent - an uncommon trait today. his quotations are apt and illustrate his text perfectly. He comes over as a Neville Cardus of his time. For those, like me, who are tired of reading books about the game which are full of politics, criticisms and the decline and fall of cricket - yes, I know all these things happen, I just don't want to have thm stuffed down my throat every time I pick up a cricket, book he is a breath of fresh air. I cannot recommend this beautiful book strongly enough.
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on 6 September 2010
Hugely enjoyable read, written with a real passion for the game, particularly in its purest form. The individual snapshots of the different games that make up the English cricketing summer make it easy to dip into, and Hamilton makes no secret of his distaste for Twenty 20 but obviously cares deeply about the future of cricket.He writes in a clear and succinct way and draws on many years of personal experience, mixed with cameos of the great characters of the game past and present. If you don't like cricket look away, if you do then don't hesitate to invest.
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on 2 July 2013
Duncan Hamilton writes majestically about a sport he clearly loves. Throughout an English Summer he moves from village green to major cricket ground to recite his thoughts. Whether he focusses on a time in history, an institution, a player or a memorable match, Hamilton is able to lucidly, yet with elegant language describe a game that many hold dear.

Hamilton, does not necessarily hark back to a 'golden era' but cherishes the quaintness of a simpler game. Additionally, he is able to extol the skills and pure genius of players like Ricky Ponting and Andrew Flintoff.

I always find that cricketing books can be read at a slower pace, in sync with the game. Hamilton is able to conjure something new and give a succinct perspective from March all the way to September. One doesn't necessarily need to enjoy cricket to read this, but it puts it in to a better perspective. If you have a passion and certainly the time to read this, then do. It's a book you won't regret.
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on 22 September 2014
This is excellent, an affectionate but never over-sentimental journey through the multiple layers of cricket. Hamilton knows and lives this subject, and it shows. Recommended to anyone who loves cricket, but especially to those who would stop any place, any time and observe and soak up the atmosphere of a random game.
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