The Five Best Books Written on the Gentleman’s Game of Cricket

recommended by venkataraman ganesan

Cricket is a sport that fascinates purists and rustics alike. A good game of cricket induces a veritable catharsis of emotions. Spanning an entire continuum of polar extremes, the game can drive a person into anxiety or place him atop the pinnacle of euphoria. While it is close to impossible to describe in words what a riveting game of cricket or a rousing cricketer means to a fanatical band of admirers these five books gamely make an attempt, and succeed beyond the wildest of imaginations. Here goes my 5 favourite books on the gentleman’s game!

  • 1

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    Beyond a Boundary: 50th Anniversary Edition (The C. L. R. James Archives)
    by C. L. R. James

    An exquisite and poignant juxtaposition of cricket and colonialism, C.L.R.James traces the evolution, euphoria and Énouement of Caribbean cricket. In the process he also tackles in a breathtaking manner the societal implications of a cluster of islands rooted in colonial constructs and its subsequent unshackling

  • 2

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    Harold Larwood
    by Duncan Hamilton

    One of the best ever biographies written by an author and arguably one of the best ever biographies dealing with a sportsman. Hamilton charts the career and life of a man who has the distinction of being one of those few cricketers who have been both reviled and reified. The exploits of the main weapon behind the now infamous "Bodyline" series and his subsequent migration to Australia makes this book an instant classic

  • 3

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    A Corner of a Foreign Field: The Indian History of a British Sport
    by Ramachandra Guha

    In the Corner of a Foreign Field - Ramachandra Guha Cricket, for many an Indian is as precious and indispensable as Oxygen. The game evokes a veritable catharsis in its fanatical admirer. Historian and cricketing tragic Ramachandra Guha, in this phenomenally enduring work illustrates how the gentleman's game bequeathed to its sprawling colony by an Empire acquired a rarified and unimaginable dimension in the hands of the bequeathed.

  • 4

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    Archie Jackson
    by David Frith

    “Archie Jackson The Keats Of Cricket” is a surreal tribute by the indefatigable David Frith to a preternatural cricketing talent whose budding career was tragically nipped. Archie Jackson, a contemporary of Sir Donald Bradman was all of 23 years old, when he breathed his last, having been stricken by a virulent bout of Tuberculosis. A prodigy with the bat, he had signaled his intentions with a century on debut against the ‘Old Enemy’, a mere four years ago. David Frith, with his usual twin pronged approach of method and meticulousness, vividly explores the emergence, exploits and ultimately the end of Archie Jackson’s professional and personal life. Employing a judicious blend of pathos and facts, Frith brings to life the optimistic, lovable and gentlemanly personality of Archie Jackson to life. Deft leg-side batting and regal cover drives compete with acts of magnanimity and tales of astounding humility. In an eminently nostalgic forward, the late tearaway English paceman and the scourge of the Aussies in the infamous ‘Bodyline’ series Harold Larwood poignantly recalls his brief but memorable battles with Archie Jackson. He concludes by emphatically exclaiming that he for one could never forget the Australian master. Nor shall any one who has read this beautiful little gem by David Frith!

  • 5

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    No Spin
    by Shane Warne & Mark Nicholas

    Shane Keith Warne’s only approach towards the game of cricket was one rooted in intensity. An approach that never took any prisoners and brooked no opposition. An aggressive in-your-face, no holds barred attitude, which more likely than not, won a multitude of games for Australia, some of which literally involved wresting victory from the gaping jaws of defeat! It is this same barn burning tactic which the ‘Sultan of Spin’ brings to the fore in his recent offering, an autobiography that is unsurprisingly titled, “No Spin”. Written along with the redoubtable Mark Nicholas, “No Spin” (“the book”) is explosive, energetic and in more passages than some, extraordinary. Unashamed in content and unsparing in context, Shane Warne’s memoir is to put it mildly – an eclectic collection of exploits and eccentricities. Delectable on-field performances clash with deplorable off the field adventures, (misadventures rather), as Warne strives to lay bare the various nuances which both constitutes his persona and makes it tick. Whether it be the magic ‘ball of the century’ which heralded the entry into the cricketing world, of the greatest leg spinner (or arguably even bowler) in the history of the game – but not before leaving Mike Gatting in a shambolic state of befuddlement – or an immoral tryst that involved two women and an inflatable sex toy (yes you read that right), Shane Warne’s life has been a roller coaster saga whose sweep has been unbelievably broad to embrace within its ambit the admirable and the abominable. The awe-inspiring magician who could change the course of any form of the game with an unparalleled sleight of hand could also be a naive man who was forced to miss a World Cup for his country after swallowing a diuretic, courtesy the educated recommendation of his mother! Mark Nicholas and Shane Warne take on in an uninhibited manner the task of reconciling the very cleave which, while lending an aura of invincibility to Warne als

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