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Ashes 2005: The Full Story of the Test Series Hardcover – 4 Oct 2005
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"Gideon Haigh's anthology is filled with writing of extraordinary quality. It is both the signature document of one of the great series and a how-to guide for us mortals. It is also utterly depressing because none of us will ever get to write that well." - Rob Smyth --The Guardian
It is both the signature document of one of the great series and a how-to guide for us mere mortals. It is also depressnig because none of us will ever get to write that well.
-- The Wisden Cricketer
About the Author
Gideon Haigh's other books for Aurum include Mystery Spinner, Many o Slip. The Big Ship, Bad Company and, most recently, Game for Anything. He lives in Melbourne, Australia.
Top customer reviews
This book is not a restrospective study of the most exiting Ashes series for many a year, but a real-time progression of articles following events as they unfold, without the knowledge of the end result. The book starts the winter of '04/'05 during the England tour of South Africa, but rather than using this as a springboard for building up the forthcoming Ashes series, Haigh describes the Australian response to an English batting collapse, and the background of Australian cricket and recent Ashes mismatches.
He then moves on to the early season skirmishes, with reports/essays written, crucially, on the day. This format continues through the tests, and is a fantastic format for reliving and re-understanding the twists and turns of this tense, unpredicable series. If you had just returned from camping on the dark side of the moon (a little breathless and dusty, no doubt), then this book would be the perfect way to live through the agonies and ecstasies as the advantage sways one way then the other. If you witnessed the series at the time, then this will refresh the emotions you felt during the matches (I listened to much of the series on TMS whilst painting my house- different rooms, and even individual brushstrokes, remind me of specific pasages of play).
This is a superb book, and even better considering it was released so quickly after the series reached its conclusion. The writing is crisp, entertaining, insightful, witty and cliche-free. I would recommend it without reservation. Even to Australians.
This gives the book some structural problems, for example for each test there is an overall match report before the day by day summaries and because the reports are drawn from a number of different sources there is some repetition and some odd digressions. Furthermore, given the rush to publish, there are, inevitably, mistakes: most egregiously, the upsetting assertion that Australia won the second test by two runs.
It is a tribute to Haigh’s qualities as a writer and journalist and the intrinsic appeal of the Ashes contest of 2005 that despite these problems this is actually a good book. Haigh writes well and is a knowledgeable cricket pundit; the book is full of interesting observations and funny moments. I suspect that in order to appreciate the book, the reader needs to be quite well versed in the nuances of cricket and have an appreciation of cricket history; this is a book for the genuine cricket fan, not someone with a passing interest.
The book does contain a quote from Haigh that, for me, sums up the series: “It wasn’t long before the Ashes of 2005 had become the best Ashes in recent memory; a little longer and it was one of the best in history; by its conclusion it was a Test match classic that will be talked about for as long as I live, which can be guaranteed, because I will be doing the talking if no one else cares to.” Haigh does not need to worry, there are many others, including me, who will be talking about it as well.
The best essay in the entire collection is the profile of Shane Warne. It is one of the finest pieces of humanitarian journalism of a sports star I have ever read, and is worth the price of purchase alone. His portrayal of a likeable yet flawed human being is the best representation I have read about the schism between the public and private sides to any famous person. Brilliant stuff.
Overall I would say that there is plenty in there for the diehard cricket fan, and the writing is florid enough to keep most general readers interested for at least half the book. I should also mention that all the articles were written for the Guardian newspaper, so if you have a chronic aversion to that rag than I suggest you steer clear. Though how you could have a problem with the Guardian when the font is so damned cute is beyond me!
Anyway, it's a good book if you can get it cheap, and for all you sad poms out there, it will remind you of the better times as you cry into your warm beer on those long, cold and lonely winter nights. Four stars.
Most recent customer reviews
The book is a collection of essays written as the test series was taking place and so gives a good feel...Read more
But I have only given this three stars as there is one major flaw with this book.Read more