Top critical review
Passionate and a little confusing
on 13 December 2011
Christian Ryan is an engaging writer, passionate and emotional in his style. This has plus points and some drawbacks.
Here it works best when conveying the feelings of the characters in the tale - and how many sports books with their emphasis on statistics manage to avoid feelings completely? - but sometimes makes this a confusing read. the narrative sometimes slides forward or back a year or so, sometimes with no 'signpost' for the reader, and some quoted remarks from the players involved are hard to interpret.
The Hughes in this book is an interesting character. I saw enough of Hughes in the early 80s to understand that claims of a potential to rival Vivian Richards might not be such an exaggeration. Everyone agrees that he was a nice guy, open and engaging, with a boyish charm. But he seems to have accidentally p*ssed off nearly everyone, even his supporters. He seemed to be able to close himself off in his own world, ignoring friction and upset until in the end they overwhelmed him. The behaviour described here by Lillee and Marsh was inexcusable in a team sport. However much you might disapprove of the choice of the captain, if you actively undermine him, you undermine the team, and Marsh especially should have put the team before his captaincy ambitions.
Certainly not a dull book, and a great story that I hadn't been too familiar with (I'm in the UK). If the style was a little less impressionistic and easier to understand, I would have given it more stars - it has lots of good things in it. More strongly recommended than 3 stars might indicate.