on 2 July 2014
As a Scot, passionate MCC (my brother & I were carefully brought up not to say England) supporter & contemplating a trip-of-a- lifetime to Oz (for family reasons outside the down-under cricket season, unfortunately) this book ticked all the boxes for me. The humour that suffuses it was a massive bonus -the back chat between Stu & Dave is worth the very reasonable Kindle price on its own. There is not over much cricket in it - just enough of it to bring back the afterglow of triumph following on Strauss's team's Ashes success. But the travel-experience narrated has given me much to think about in adjusting my own Aussie itinerary. And there is much social commentary of an unexpectedly philosophical nature to enjoy as well. One or two spelling errors and/or misprints were not sufficient to spoil the overall enjoyment.
on 2 February 2013
This was a hugely enjoyable read, a dose of Australian sunshine and mordant wit, a fantastic combination. If, like me, you grew up with TMS burbling in the background, the sound of summers past was Arlott, Johnners and Aggers, and your school girl crush was Mike Brearley, you'll spend a pleasurable few hours in the company of Stuart and Dave tottering around the great Australian cricket grounds. You don't have to be a massive cricket fan to enjoy this book, a nodding acquaintance with the game will suffice. The joy of reading this is that the authors are clearly passionate about the subject, not nerdy, statistic-munching geeks, but sociable, observant, hilarious, gloriously witty and communicative. If you ever enjoyed reading Barry Norman, Clive James or Bill Bryson, you will know each wears his expertise lightly but has real zest for sharing their knowledge and experience. David Alexander and Stuart Croll certainly have the same dazzling linguistic flair that made me want to keep dipping into the book for the next city, the next match. This is Fever Pitch for cricket fans, for australophiles and anyone who enjoys a good laugh. Agreeing with a previous reviewer, it could do with a wee edit, and the designer should be beaten with a middle stump, but there is so much to love about this.
on 9 August 2012
This was a pleasant surprise. A very,very funny travel book with a bit of cricket thrown in. There is even a commentary on what it means to be English,Scottish,Irish and British in the present day - but even this is dealt with in a very humourous way.
I particularly loved the descriptions of trying to enter the stadium in Brisbane, nativity celebrations in Perth and celebrating the new year in Sydney.
This is easily one of the best books about sports spectating as a holiday choice I have ever read.
I am a cricket fan so I'm guessing that this book would still appeal to non-cricket fans. I hope so as travel books go it does deserve to reach a wide audience. Reminds me very much of the writing of Pete McCarthy and Stuart Maconie - and that is very much a compliment.
If you can't take Stuart Croll on holiday with you this is the next best thing.
on 31 January 2013
What a gem of a book. I myself am a Scottish cricket fan, and in fact live near The [Kennington/Fosters/Aviva/whatever] Oval, and so I did wonder if I might have seen the author, who is perhaps writing under a nom de plume.
The tale starts predictably enough like many of these tales do, with a drunken bet made in a pub, that Croll can survive six weeks following the Barmy army on the Ashes tour of Australia, and that kind of sets the timbre of his writing throughout, he writes like a very entertaining pub raconteur, drawing you in and cajoling you towards the end of any particular chapter, where the climax is not usually a crescendo, but some kind of frustration at cricket fans touring life.
If it's a gem, then there are several facets to the cutting of the stone; there's the cricket, obviously, there's the travelogue writing about Australian cities [although this does by its nature concentrate on cricket loving towns, there's no Alice Springs or Uluru Ayers Rock] there's the chummy expose of what it's like to travel with the Barmy Army, and there's Croll interior psychology trying to deal with his sense of betrayal at being a scot supporting England in a country where there are more virulent scots than he's ever met.
And it really works. The book moves if not seamlessly then cyclically round these topics, the cricketing talk is accessible enough for the travel readers, the Scottish cultural humour is broad enough to connect with anyone who has a regional bigotry in their heart, and the travelogue writing, while not making me want to jump on the next plane, left me feeling that my Australian chums here in London are not as alien as I had previously thought, believing them to have grown up in a wooden shed with an outside dunny, in the mood of the Bradman legend.
It's not perfect though; Croll and Alexander have successfully avoided the team writing sin of making it obvious who wrote what, the voice in this book is charmingly constant, although I did find it drifting from contemporary scots to Clive James, but that's just how I react to Australian stuff. They've clearly self-published this, and that means they haven't had access to what you get from a proper outfit; a fearless editor to cut some of the connective tissue, and desist Croll from a slight habit of repeating jokes. For a travel book, it should be printed on lighter paper. And the jacket is just horrible. But these are minor concerns in the days of Kindle and ipad, and don't at all impinge on the underlying hilarity of Croll and Alexander's cack-handed wing and several prayers jaunt around a world that in several senses, isn't theirs.