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on 8 July 2013
As an avid test match cricket fan this book brings the Ashes to life. Reading about some of the earlier tests has fascinated me. This book is a must for any cricket fan!!!!
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on 25 June 2013
With his always intelligent views and amazing ability to transport you back to past Ashes battles with his well chosen words this taster from one of TV's top sports pundits is the perfect aperitif to what every Englishman hopes will be a successful season
Well done Mr Hughes...now can someone buy me this for Xmas please?
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on 17 August 2015
For cricket fans with a sense of humour, this really is a brilliant and entertaining read backed with good historical facts and figures from ten pivotal Ashes Test matches spanning from the Victorian era to modern times. There are a few charming photographs and match statistics and scorecards relating to the ten highlighted Tests, however, this is mainly a really good read that branches out to suggest how the ten highlighted Test affected different eras of the history of the Ashes. What I find surprising is that whilst Simon Hughes is so funny and entertaining on the written page, this book and A Hard Lot Of Yakka prove that, he always seems a bit staid and reserved on TV and radio.
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on 10 October 2015
It is difficult to imagine Simon Hughes writing anything that isn't 5-Star, and this is no exception. He picks out the great games between England and Australia, but also gives us the background to each, which is often what makes the match itself great. Simon Hughes' humour is always there, but it is the depth of the knowledge he has obviously gained from his research that provides the basis for the book, upon which he has lavished both detail and his keen observation. A great read for anyone interested in cricket.
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on 4 June 2016
Hughes tells the tale well but stylistically the book leaves much to be desired.
I object to the flagrant use of foul language - it is totally unnecessary. That and the smattering of boyish jokes lower the level of the content. I also found the endless reference to modern events and personalities during the telling of the stories of the earlier Ashes games to be highly distracting. I do not need to hear Hughes' comparison of the stars of yesteryear with their more recent successors. He also falls into the trap especially in the early chapters of the repetition of 'incredibly...', 'amazing' and 'the .....-est in history', a trend which shows a poor command of the English language. And who was responsible for proof reading? My copy of the book included a number of errors.
All in all this is not the greatest read on the subject of cricket.
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on 2 November 2015
Title of book is "Cricket's Greatest Rivalry: A History of the Ashes in 10 Matches [Kindle Edition]". In fact this is just a single free chapter so the description in the title is incorrect. It is fine and welcome to give away a free chapter to promote a book, but not fine to misrepresent this in the title.
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on 1 January 2014
The title is misleading. While it does do 10 Test matches in depth, it also gives a good summary of everything which happened in between, i.e. it is a complete history of Ashes cricket. A great read and well researched with anecdotes old and new.m Well done Simon.
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on 10 October 2015
Only one chapter to comment on - Bradman and the 1948 Australians. Very informative and some of the stories very amusing. I like, for example, the description of Wally Hammond not being able to compete with the Don on the field but at least he was better at pulling off the field. Very droll!!.
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on 21 May 2016
This is a beautifully told, well-researched account of almost 140 years of Ashes Test matches told primarily through the tales of 10 particularly interesting matches but mentioning almost every other Test as well. There is a lovely mixture of historic detail and more frivolous gossip which really brings the key characters to life - from W G Grace to Shane Warne. Highly recommended for anyone who loves cricket and great sports writing.
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on 4 January 2014
I think of Simon Hughes as The Analyst; the man who, a decade ago, raised the bar of cricket comment with his insightful contributions for Channel 4. Who better to write a book about the great Ashes rivalry?

First the plaudits. Hughes deserves credit for his take on the 1933 'bodyline' tour. Here was one occasion when an England tour downunder was carefully planned and brilliantly executed. How have Jardine and Larwood ended up being treated as the villains of the piece? Beats me. As Hughes says: "Australians like to refer to the English as 'whingeing Poms', but on this occasion it was the Aussies who were whingeing." Maybe history has been cruel because, in the face of this whingeing, the English establishment backed down and refused to back their cricketers. Ever since, English cricket has appeared a little uneasy about exploring how we might make winning a habit.

Hughes' take on 'bodyline' notwithstanding, I found 'Cricket's Greatest Rivalry' a massive disappointment. It is hard to understand how such a thoughtful and engaging man could have written such an ill-considered book on a subject he obviously cares about a great deal. I can see two possibilities: Hughes is not the most competent writer; and/or the book was rushed to publication in order to appear before the back-to-back Ashes series of 2013-14.

For an ex-cricketer to have limitations as a writer doesn't have to be an insurmountable problem. This book is riddled with awkward passages and the approximate use of punctuation. Bizarrely, there's not even a consistent approach to spacings between words, heightening the impression that this was a rush-job. Does this matter? It wouldn't if the publisher, Cassell Illustrated, employed competent proof-readers. If this book is anything to go by, they don't.

The sloppiness of the writing is exacerbated by Hughes' surprisingly superficial take. Given that he has been close to the action during recent series, where are all those trademark piercing insights? In the case of more distant series, diligent research fills the gaps. Did Hughes do his homework in this regard? My suspicion that he did not is based on the fact that he told me very little that I have not already read elsewhere. How many times do I have to be told that had the 'ball of the century' been a bun it wouldn't have passed Mike Gatting's defences?

To me, one of the biggest weaknesses of Hughes' style is his self-conscious use of humour. He seems hell-bent on squeezing in lame, laddish jokes at every turn. Often, lacking some pearl of wisdom from one of the protagonists, he opts instead for a comment from someone in the crowd. Here's an example from the last chapter, of an insult hurled at Ricky Ponting by an Australian fan during the 2010-11 series when he placed a fielder at short mid-on: "Oh very good, Punter! The last time someone took a catch there was 1921!' Good grief.

How ironic that I should finish this book in bed this morning and then go to check the test score at Sydney: Australia 326 and 140-4; England 155. Which brings me to my final point. 'Cricket's Greatest Rivalry' ends thus: "... now Cook is chartering new waters as England captain, the story can begin all over again. Excited?"

Actually, no. I've never felt less excited about the England cricket team. Timing is everything, and Hughes got his spectacularly wrong. But how could he have foreseen Cook and England's spectacular demise? Not easy, I know, but that's his job. He is The Analyst after all.
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