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Customer reviews

4.6 out of 5 stars
4.6 out of 5 stars

on 23 October 2002
After reading his perceptive and humerous Captain's Diaries on cricinfo.com as well as his columns in the Sunday Telegraph I waited expectantly for this book to come out. Apart from the rather naf and overused "my autobiography" on the front cover this book is superb in every respect. Atherton decides which part of his compartmentalised existence to let you into, but then does so in its entirety. You will not find a more complete and evocative description of the trials of a modern cricketer as he doesn't bore you with rote recitations of cricket matches won and lost but gives the detail of the personalities on either side and behind the scenes. At no point do you feel you are reading a "tell all" book but he does not hold back on his opinions, both on what he thought and did as well as his opinions of the people around him. One curious omission is any thoughts on the match fixing scandal apart from one or two tangential references. I would be curious to know why he left out this highly relevant topic, especially as he captained and played against the deceased Hansie Cronje. However any element of matchfixing would have picked up headlines and this does not appear to be Atherton's style. The book is engrossing and you feel he writes as he plays - with a straight bat. He has no false modesty and makes no weak excuses. A book well worth buying, well worth keeping.
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on 26 September 2002
From the early days as a Manchester schoolboy, to his sudden rise to England's cricket captain, Mike Atherton's book captures the mixture of frustration and elation at the heart of English cricket.
Atherton was captain during the dodgy nineties, when England suffered a long spell in the doldrums of international cricket. His autobiography highlights Atherton's relationship with the selectors - notably Ray Illingworth; his teammates - there is one glorious photograph of Nasser Hussain as a fifteen year old with fantastic hair!; and gives a detailed insight into how it felt to be thrust at the helm without a great deal of experience. Atherton describes his input into team selection (or lack of it), the infamous ball-tampering affair, and his tremendous innings against Allan Donald, where he knew he was out, but did not walk. This incident is described so precisely, that the atmosphere is almost palpable.
If you are expecting an expletive filled, ghost written tome, you will be disappointed. These are Atherton's thoughts, eloquently penned entirely by the man himself. If you want juicy personal stories about sexual conquests, don't buy it. He is very reticent about his private life, and doesn't even mention his new baby.
This is a book for die hard cricket fans, and for lovers of sport in general, who want to see behind the scenes; to feel what it was like to be at the centre of English cricket. I would also recommend it to those with a fledgling interest in the game, as the passionate accounts of matches give such a true feeling of what is must have felt like to stand at the crease, under the scrutiny of thousands of spectators.
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TOP 1000 REVIEWERon 19 September 2002
Sporting autobiographies are often unsatisfying pieces of writing. Perhaps this is because they are usually ghosted. A journalist takes down the subjects words of their subject and then tries to organize them into a book. This book is completely written by Mike Atherton and all the better for it. What's more it is beautifully written.

He explores many aspects of his time as England captain, his sometimes stormy relationship with selectors (especially Ray Illingworth), players as well as various memorable matches. Yet even when critical, there us no sense of "settling scores". He is quite prepared to point out his own failings or differing viewpoints.

Atherton emerges as intelligent, thoughtful and articulate with a sense of humour. He draws a fascinating picture of the English Test scene in the 1990's. There are also fascinating insights into the psychology of the modern game, problems of coping with celebrity and the various personalities in the game. As well as a fascinating picture of his own personal development over the time which is illuminating in its own right.

Fascinating for cricket lovers and for anyone interested in what makes sportsman. This may have longer shelf life than most sport books.
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on 8 December 2005
In this autobiography Mike Atherton has provided readers with an insight into the mind of a top class England cricketer before the days of central contracts and the general commitment to the England national team by all concerned. We learn how Mike Atherton started playing cricket, his rise to playing for Lancashire and then onto the England team. This book details how Mike Atherton rose quickly to become the England captain at a time when England players were in and out of the England team constantly. Mike Atherton provides enough information for the reader to know clearly what he thought of Ray Illingworth and the other selectors, during their time. It is obvious that Mike Atherton enjoyed playing under “Bumble”, as David Lloyd is affectionately known, from his association with Lloyd at Lancashire. This book describes how these two gelled well together, in a similar way to the union of Fletcher/Hussain and Fletcher/Vaughan subsequently.
You will find extracts from Mike Atherton’s diary when he considers the dirt in the pocket affair, though this is a very clever spin on a matter that has not been satisfactorily resolved in my mind at least, I felt much is held back. For that matter there are a number of sections where I felt that things were being held back, which is a shame, but maybe Mike Atherton feels that he does not want to upset people in cricket. In an age where England cricket has central contracts, an outstanding coach in Duncan Fletcher and coaching facilities that rival any other cricketing nation, it is interesting to note that Mike Atherton recommended many of the measures that England now enjoy. Indeed Mike Atherton makes it clear that the only thing not accepted during his time were central contracts, but he did recommend them. Today we have much to learn from Mike Atherton, a batsman who could occupy crease for long periods of time and frustrate the opposition. Personally I enjoyed reading about Mike Atherton’s batting exploits and felt at times that I was right there beside Mike Atherton as he batted, which is a testament to his clear writing style. If you want an insight into 1990’s England cricket then this book should be top of your listing.
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on 16 October 2002
Having read a number of modern cricketing autobiographies, I rate this one as the best. It is the right mixture of cricket, anecdotes, humour and positive criticism and suggestions. Mike is quite right in saying that his private life is his own, although he does mention his beautiful girlfriend and new baby Joshua. I look forward to seeing and reading more of Mike Atherton the journalist/sports commentator, and wish him as much success in this career as he found as a first-rate international cricketer. Well done, Mike!
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on 22 July 2005
Mike Atherton was one of very few top class players England had during the early to mid 90's, though many seem to underrate him. I never found him especially interesting in interview however and it was some time after it's release that I finally got round to reading his autobiography.
What a mistake.
This is an excellently written (proving Atherton's intelligence - no ghost writers here) completely honest account of his life and provides some fascinating insights into his career and captaincy of England. Let's face it the captaincy was a tough draw at the time what with the poor range of players we had to select from and Atherton is completely open about the problems faced.
The only criticism I can find it that if anything the whole thing is slightly too analytical and I don't really get the impression you get to know Mike Atherton all that well from reading it.
Die-hard cricket fans will enjoy it (indeed most will no doubt already have read it) but for people on the fringe of being cricket fans, I would recommend this book also.
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on 21 May 2008
Opening Up- My Autobiography by Mike Atherton is a life story of a professional cricketer. Mike Atherton during his days was a fine cricketer, as he achieved modest success with the England team during the 90's. The England team though not absence from experiencing a few problems. The team struggled against strong oppositions and could not match Australia's class. The noticeable weaknesses included battling collapses, fielding laspes and inability to play spin bowling and quality pace bowling.

The autobiography is a clear reflection of a career filled with mixed success. Mike Atherton strikes me as a honest and knowledgeable individual person. He offers insights on a variety of matters that affected the cricketing career. The key areas touched upon include injuries, Cambridge days, first class career, international career and captaincy. The contents of the book are really interesting to read around. A full picture of a cricketing professional emerges.

Mike Atherton proves his literacy skills are outstanding. He is open minded about his views and opinions, which are clearly highlighted. A brief career summary is included in the autobiography, supported with statistics.

The facts that a professional sport-person is writing this book adds credibility and authenticity, as opposed to a biographer interest of studying a subject for a long time. In terms of sport autobiographies, I would rate this highly. My only criticism reserved about this autobiography is may be a little outdated as it written around five years ago. During that time, we have observed recent innovations in the game, with twenty over game, retirement of veterans and new players emerging in the scene. This clearly suggests that cricket is a sport affected by changes. The autobiography still remains a strong favourite with me. The Opening up by Mike Atherton is an interesting read of a cricketer from a particular generation.
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on 30 May 2016
Atherton had the misfortune in some respects to play for England during a fairly pedestrian and at times frustratingly awful times. The game changed dramatically between his debut in 1989 and his retirement in the early 21st century. He approached it at all times in good humour, with an acceptance that he was fortunate and he made the most of his talents. As a batsmen he clearly acknowledges he was less talented than many others yet they fell by the wayside- why ? In part this book addresses some of that, its part autobiography part -Atherton on cricket ( a successor to Brearleys captaincy book if ever there was one). The mental failings of some of the players with more ability _ Smith and Hick for example are dealt with clearly and in a friendly manner.
One can only imagine how his career would have looked had his back not given him such trouble, or had he been looked after better. We can only look back at the missed opportunity England had to adapt to the modern game at a much earlier juncture with some regret.
I had forgotten the whole Chairman Illingworth year before reading this , oh what fun that must have been !
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on 27 February 2012
He has been one of my favourite sports writers for a long time, and this book has backed up my view. The critical analysis of everything he writes about gives readers an idea about the world of cricket in a very different way.

To hear his view on the ball tampering incident was very interesting, but i won't ruin it for you.

If you are a fan of cricket in any way, then this book is a must.

As a 'wannabe' Sports Journalist, I was eager to take writing tips from this book, and in an indirect way, I most certainly did.

I am most certainly looking forward to reading his new book, 'Glorious Summers and Discontents: Looking Back on the Ups and Downs from a Dramatic Decade', as it is sure to be a cracker.
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VINE VOICEon 12 November 2004
Captain Grumpy was the nickname coined for Athers by the media during his tenure as England skipper. Though unshiftable at the crease, he was undemonstrative in the field and unforthcoming to the press. Watching him, one often wondered if he actually enjoyed playing cricket for England, moreover, one doubted he enjoyed captaining England. This autobiography serves to confirm both of those suppositions.

The book is utterly reflective of what is probably most English cricket fan's view Atherton's personality. He comes across as dispassionate and detached, honest and frank, self effacing and self critical but not self absorbed. There are consequently no fireworks in this book, no gossip, no melodrama, no long standing animosities, blazing rows, character assassinations, stirring vitriol or dewy eyed references to three lions. There are no highs or lows - the book is as flat and steady as the author's delivery in the commentator's box, similarly it's also spot on. This is good, but sometimes, like when he's describing the dirt in the pocket incident, or the Caligula-like posturing of Ray Illingworth, or the most memorable and electric period of cricket most of us have ever seen (versus Allan Donald at trent Bridge in 1998) you find yourself thirsting for some PASSION. The book is too downbeat to be very re-readable and earn the full 5 stars

He neither heaps praise nor damns people within cricket with flowery language or cliché. Instead he is utterly objective in his descriptions of people and his relationship with them; it seems irrelevant to him whether he personally 'liked' people, rather he defines them in terms of how much he respects their cricketing abilities - playing, coaching or organising. On his own abilities he is equally objective, though a little too humble in this reader's view - he is not afraid to state what he thinks his strengths were as a player and captain, but he dwells rather more on his failings.

You get the impression from the book that Atherton was an intelligent, thoughtful and reflective captain. He had a good cricket brain and was a confident and intuitive tactician who learnt from his mistakes. A voracious reader and keen cricket student, he had studied captaincy, including particularly Mike Brearley's work on the subject. His writing on the England captaincy, its difficulties, the role within the context of selection and team management, man management and the qualities of a good skipper make for very interesting reading. He was perhaps TOO thoughtful and intelligent to ever make a good skipper in the media's eye - he wasn't one for the banal or cosy soundbite.

You also get the impression that he was utterly dedicated, but had few close friends in cricket. In this he came across as very similar to Geoffrey Boycott, indeed he refers to Boycott throughout the book as a batting mentor and the echoes of Boycott in this book do not end there. His opinions on the state of English cricket and the relationship between county and Test cricket in this country are similar to Geoffrey's, and expressed just as forthrightly. Atherton confesses he cared little about statistics nor his place in the history of the game (which is of course the antithesis of Boycott, or so is the popular view), but like Boycott he just saw Test cricket as a personal test of his courage, concentration and technique - with him being his own ultimate judge. Like Boycott's autobiography, there is an overwhelming feeling that Atherton either was too consumed by succeeding at cricket to actually enjoy the game, or that his struggles against a bumbling and utterly inept institution, in the form of the England hierarchy, gradually wrung the love of the game out of him. He fought constant battles against elders with egoes in inverse proportion to their talent and with their own prejudices, agendas and petty jealousies. The most pleasure Atherton seemed to derive from international cricket was not the sport so much as the exposure to foreign cultures, into which he immersed himself as much as he could. Like Boycott, cliques, laddish socialising, striving to be liked and toeing the line were not for him.

In all it's a well written record of a recent low point in English cricket - a period of disorganisation and disunity before the advent of central contracts, as observed by a talented and honest young man caught up in the middle.
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