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A Social History of English Cricket (Sports Classics) Paperback – 1 Aug 2013

4.3 out of 5 stars 17 customer reviews

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Product details

  • Paperback: 400 pages
  • Publisher: Aurum Press Ltd; PB Reissue edition (1 Aug. 2013)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1781311765
  • ISBN-13: 978-1781311769
  • Product Dimensions: 13.3 x 3.2 x 19.7 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (17 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 304,753 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Product Description

Amazon Review

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.

Review

'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)

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Customer Reviews

4.3 out of 5 stars
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Top Customer Reviews

By A Customer on 20 Sept. 2004
Format: Paperback
A fantastic book. As a cricket addict I can read about it all day but this book stands out. The author's chatty and lyrical style make it easy to read but the research and quantity of facts in the book is staggering. It's great to read about the non-cricketing side to personalities I've heard of and seen pictures of, but know little more. On the face if it this book should be a bit dry and hard work but believe me, it's not. It's refreshing to read a book that is not afraid to critise some of the legends of the game and bust a few myths particularly the roles of gentlemen and players.
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By A Customer on 9 Dec. 2000
Format: Paperback
This was the surprise winner of the 1999 Willian Hill Sports Book of the Year - only a surprise in that in that it is a scholarly, rigorous and well-referenced account of the evolution of English cricket through three centuries. It is also entertaining, witty, irreverent and beautifully written.
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Format: Paperback
I have to admit that in the early stages of reading this book, I thought it was a bit heavyweight and stodgy and I didn't get into as quickly as many other reads. However, I am delighted that I stuck with it as it is a truly excellent and well-researched tome. The migration of cricket from its amateur roots, through the periods of mock amateurism, gents and players and into the professional era is well documented here - numerous insights, many of them with a subtly dry sense of humour overlaid on top of them, document the development of the game to what was current at the time that the book was written (1999).

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.
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Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
This is a well-researched yet very readable account of the history of English cricket from its earliest years to the dawn of the 21st century. Birley takes us through the formation of some of the pillars of the sport; Hambledon, Lord’s, MCC, the County Championship; through to one-day cricket, Botham and Atherton. All are put into the context of the time, although Birley does seem to have a few axes to grind – he is very critical of the forces that he sees as holding cricket back throughout its history; MCC and the amateurs come under regular withering fire. More than anything, it’s very well-written and a pleasure to read.
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Format: Paperback
Well-researched, this book starts at the very beginnings of English cricket 500 years ago and takes it all the way up to the end of the 20th century. It connects what's happening in the real social world with developments in cricket (which always lagged behind). My understanding of non-cricketing English social history has improved at the same time. An excellent read.
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Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
I stuck this out to the (very) bitter end. Much of the content was illuminating - a sort of insider view of the game, but axes had to be ground and the underlying 'political' comments detracted from the book. I loved the history though.
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Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
My hardback copy, purchased on Amazon Marketplace, is well produced and nice to hold.
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.
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By A Customer on 21 Feb. 2000
Format: Hardcover
This book has deservedly won the major literary sporting prizes of 1999. It is beautifully written, full of scholarly detail, and a classic in its field. It is funny, down-to-earth and lucid in its interweaving of social, political, literary and sporting events through the ages. It sparkles on every page. Do not be put off by the accurate but dry title - this is a book which delightfully brings the past to life.
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