Once upon a time there was a game which was so ingenious, subtle and skilful that people flocked to watch it. If they couldn’t get to the game they listened to the commentary or summary by two brilliant observers. Times change, attention spans decline and spectators demand constant sensation and drama. This excellent book takes those of us who recall those wonderful days back to when Test Matches were fewer and the better for it because their scarcity increased the anticipation and excitement. I’m glad Arlott and Swanson have been spared witnessing the decline of the greatest game. Sledging, cheating, yelling and clap-handing’ and that’s just the players. A modern Test Match crowd is a bear-pit. But with this book we return to the game at its best and get a fascinating insight into what made those two fine men tick. Their foibles, frailties and fascination. Great stuff, indeed. .
This is essentially the history of post-war cricket seen through the eyes of two men whose voices and writings shaped and enhanced the sporting experience for millions. They were of different backgrounds, styles and philosophies, but both had a significant impact on the game.
There was certainly plenty to chew over: the amateur/professional wrangle, the emergence of the one-day game, the d'Oliveira affair and the Kerry Packer revolution to name but a few. All these controversial milestones are examined in fascinating detail.
It was especially pleasing to be reminded of some of Arlott's famous word pictures for Test Match Special: 'A stroke of a man knocking a thistle-top off with a walking stick.'
I suppose this book will appeal largely to those described in the Postscript as ' ... older followers of the game [who] pine for a lost golden age.' That would be a pity because it would be an education to younger cricket followers to know that there's nothing new about counties' financial struggles, slow over-rates, boorish behaviour and the fear that the shorter game will eventually devour its long-standing bedfellow. As far back as 1972, Arlott was reflecting that 'it would be a pity if the entertaining and rewarding tail [one-day cricket] were to wag the dog so hard as to shake it off.'
This is an absorbing study, well written and admirably researched.
Read this wonderful book during the baking hot month of May and few have had a grater time warping quality than this This elegy to two great broadcasters and the game of cricket which we have sadly list evokes pure nostalgia of summers past Both Arlott and Swanton were supporters of the 3 County and Test Games but were pragmatic enough to appreciate the importance of the importance of the one day game Quite what they had made of T20 and the number of games expected from players goodness only knows Today crickets administrators do not seem to realise that more is less in broadcasting terms none of the ex players or pundits who populate the the commentary box can hold a candle to either Arlott and Swanton I have always been an Arlott fan who along with Alistair Cook painted the pictures on radio better than anyone eise i have ever heard Try and find this summer an of the cuff description to that of Arlott describing Asif Massoods run up as "like Groucho Marx chasing a pretty waitress" Read and savour this history of the reporting of post war cricket by two broadcasters and writers of whom we shall not see their lie again and on a game that sadly is a shadow of summers past Fay and Kynaston have done them proud. Buy it and enjoy
A superb book. It tells of the changes in cricket over 50 years through the lives of two very different cricket journalists. Interestingly at certain points the reactionary Swanton of the Telegraph is more open to change than the politically more radical Arlott of the Guardian. It also contains some excellent anecdotes of both of these substantial characters. thoroughly recommended.
As soon as a saw a description of this I knew it was a must for me. I devoured thousands of words by these two towering pillars of cricket writing and loved them both. As a Hampshire fan my heart was with Arlott but Swanton was my daily cricket bible for many years. I didn't wait to put it on my Christmas list, I ordered it the week it was published. It is all I hoped for and more. It is nicely written and covers the background to both men's careers thoroughly. The second half is a wonderful evocation of the cricket of my younger days. Since completing it I have re-read several of the books I have by these two and I still love them. If you are at all attracted by the premise of this book, don't hesitate. It delivers what you think it will.
Having written on this period in English cricket I was familiar with many of Arlott’s & Swanton’s Writings but what this book brought out superbly was that both commentators were more varied in their views on cricket, politics and life than has been commonly supposed. The book demonstrates clearly that Swanton was not merely a pompous reactionary, a bastion of the cricketing & political establishment any more than Arlott was essentially a liberal critic, a left of Centre iconoclast with a sounder moral compass. The authors should be congratulated in drawing portraits that not only represent Arlott & Swanton as impressive writers but as thoughtful commentators.
This book is a wonderful review of World cricket between the finish of World War II and the end of the last century. Arlott and Swanton were the two most important and best cricket journalists and broadcasters in that period. The book deals with their differing views of the controversies of the period, Packer, One Day Cricket and South Africa. It brings out the great love for the game that underwrote their differing views and their concerns for the future. It is a beutifully written book that deals affectionately with their idiocyncracies and peccadillos. It is also wonderfully nostalgic for anyone who grew up as a cricket fan in those years.
This excellent book reveals many things wrong in cricket today, even at the highest level. For example, cheating, vile sledging and general lack of courtesy towards opponents. Recent events involving Australian cricketers have sullied a great game. Arlott and Swanson would have been horrified and they unlike our pundits today would have openly condemned what happened. Both railed against coarse manners on the field. Both spoke out during the moral crisis provoked by apartheid South Africa. How things have changed. Stokes would have been roasted behaviour on and on the field. Arlott was a great BBC broadcaster. He commanded attention. For him the game was part poetry, it entailed chivalry and bravery. Swanton was less evocative but no less passionate. For him also the game was about higher values. Jim was a pillar of the old school tie. Both commentated and wrote at a time when there was an annual match between Gentlemen and Players. State educated players were considered not quite in the same class as those from public schools. Swanton was an advocate of women becoming MCC members. This horrified some members.
Arlott in 1948 called that government predominantly Nazi. Swanton had suffered greatly in a Japanese POW camp and he also condemned the way Blacks were treated. They both criticised, rightly, the spineless England selectors for not picking Basil D'Oliviera , a mixed race player of great skill.
This is a book that reminds you of what you are missing in an era of instant cricket. The two were in many ways quite different. One was a Hampshire leftie the other was an urban snob. Both however battled constantly for the soul of English cricket. Their distinctive voices were instantly recognisable. There is no one today in their class. Arlott was a working class man who had had little in the way of education. He was self-taught. He became a policeman before turning to cricket. He was a poet and produced poetry programmes for the BBC. He wrote for the Guardian . Swanton was privately educated and wrote for the Daily Telegraph. In public they were always respectful of each other. Swanton never hid his snobbery. He was very disliked by some other cricket writers.
This is a beautifully produced book about two great voices of cricket. It works on many levels. It shows that our game has always been in crisis. These two fought to resolve each one. They are badly missed by genuine cricket lovers.