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The most important book about cricket in 25 years
on 3 February 2009
"The most important book about cricket in 25 years": can it really be this good?
Yes, yes, yes.
What Woolmer has done is to take cricket and completely rethink it, using all sorts of fields: psychology (visualising techniques), physics (reverse swing), historical analysis (comparing Ian Botham's tips on batting in 1980 with the Reverend James Pycroft's in 1851), statistics (there's no advantage in winning the toss in a one day match!) and fusing them altogether with experience of being at the top of international sport.
He's got view on everything, from which ball of an over one should play a premeditated shot in a ODI (the 1st or the 6th), which guard you should take (leg stump ahead of middle or middle and leg), to how to bowl an over in a 'set' so as to trap the batsman at the end.
I would say every ten pages, he comes up with something utterly new and original, on all sorts of fields: from why Bradman averaged 40 runs more than anyone else, to why McGrath had Atherton's number, to how you should bowl at someone when they are completely set and don't look like getting out.
He's continually illuminating, continually original, and frequently goes against the grain of 'orthodox' cricket coaching (e.g. you shouldn't worry about taking the bat directly back in the backlift: top players tend to take it back towards 2nd slip...the bottom hand is more significant than the top hand in batting... don't put your foot to the pitch of the ball...)
Clearly, this is most a book for people who are seriously interested in cricket, but it's just a brilliant example of someone taking a subject and completely rethinking it. Almost every facet of the game is something he's considered, practised and now written up for everyone to read (presumably dictating to the authors).
It's an absolute classic, ideal for dipping into, as it's written in small chunks.
A perfect gift for a cricket lover, or a real treat if you actually play.
It may look imposing at 700 pages, but it's simply brilliant.