A Social History of English Cricket (Sports Classics) Paperback – 1 Aug 2013
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Modern cricket suffers from being perceived as exemplifying the aristocratic circles from which it originated. It is the history behind this image which this book attempts to unravel, as Derek Birley illustrates cricket's uncertain position today. He cleverly shows that central to this uncertainty is the ethos of competition underpinning modern ethics--an ethos within which cricket, having originated in a leisurely environment, fares badly.
In concentrating on the aristocratic origins of the sport and the developments of the industrial revolution, Birley elucidates the reasons for the disparities in popularity and etiquette of cricket and football. His research is impressive in scope, but its purpose is ultimately hindered by his inability to filter out unnecessary facts.
This is a pity, because there is much noteworthy historical material--appealing to historians and cricket lovers alike--in this weighty book. Yet the historical passages are a little clumsily integrated with cricketing developments and the conclusions are somewhat piecemeal, as if Birley still believes that the historian's role is to be an "objective observer" and present "the facts". This is a somewhat antiquated view, but it is commensurate with the subject matter and the hypocritical mores of the founders of the game--the old-style aristocrats who invented the spirit of cricket and with whom, it appears, Birley cannot help but identify himself. --Toby Green --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
'A masterpiece'(Daily Mail)
'An exceptional example of profound research and wisdom, yet told with elegance, humour and warmth.'(Guardian)
'A profoundly researched, easily and stylishly written book, put together with a view to a shelf-life of a good half-century, and as a work of reference a fair way beyond that.'(Simon Barnes The Times)
'A wonderful book, written with great self-depracating humour. A hugely rewarding read.'(John Inverdale) See all Product Description
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Top Customer Reviews
The key word in the book's title is "social". This is not a history of the game per se, but of the social context of the game in the many different eras that it has passed through. The writer's ability to look at the social aspects of the game as if he were writing in the context of any particular age is superb.
Overall, this is a book that I would recommend, not just to cricket aficionados, but also to anyone with an interest in the social history of Britain over the past 4 centuries.
The prose is clear and not difficult to read. The research has been meticulously done.
The illustrations are standard and add nothing to the text.
The title is a misnomer. This is not a social history of English cricket at at all. It is a history of first class cricket with some general history, which is rarely integrated into the text, tacked on from time to time. Village cricket, which should be the very essence of the book, is relegated to a short epilogue.
Equally bad, the author's leftist attitude permeates the text; amateurs bad, professionals good: MCC bad, everybody else, particularly Australians, good: the moneyed classes dense, the working classes astute. How it all grates.
Most Recent Customer Reviews
You have to love Cricket and understand the English to appreciate this book - if you do you'll find it both illuminating and amusing.Published on 9 April 2014 by MCC
A great read, in particular the latter years which are well remembered such as the Wardle exit, the Illingworth exit and the Boycott episodes at Yorkshire. Read morePublished on 2 Jan. 2014 by MRS JANIS WARD
I had the previous edition which was a lot larger in size than this which is a gift as a result the font is quite small and I would imagine could cause a bit of eye strain.Published on 30 Nov. 2013 by KARL FODEN
If you are interested in the history of Cricket or English society and also interested in the politics of the sport then this is your book. Read morePublished on 27 Jun. 2011 by AlanReview
A must read for every cricket fan. A fascinating backdrop for the world's best sport, combining history with sport and intrigue. Well researched, very entertaining. Read morePublished on 10 May 2011 by Laura
A Social History of English Cricket
This deeply absorbing volume proved to be a winner on several accounts. Read more