Posts tagged ‘cricket’

July 6, 2013

A Shed of One’s Own: Marcus Berkmann

by Andre

Marcus Berkmann A SHED OF ONE'S OWNNicholas Lezard BITTER EXPERIENCE HAS TAUGHT MEMarcus Berkmann’s one of those eminently amusing writers I’ve been stumbling across for a couple of decades. So opening his latest comic memoir, A Shed of One’s Own: Midlife Without the Crisis, feels a bit like finding a familiar face in a reassuringly fusty pub where you’ve both retreated to escape the vicissitudes of modern life. He’s a little older, a little more resigned to greengrocers’ misplaced apostrophes and the decline of personal ambition but essentially the same amiable humourist.

Berkmann’s chronicled his cricketing obsession in multiple volumes and featured in the late Harry Thompson’s marvellous Penguins Stopped Play about village cricketers on a quixotic tour of seven continents; he’s a Private Eye regular; and he used to review TV in the Daily Mail back in the early Nineties, which was actually just a few months ago (that’s according to Berkmann’s theory of Decade Erosion among the middle aged). As I recall, he once had a ponytail, and indeed he addresses this hair episode in a chapter called ‘Mutton’, which also features the World’s Oldest Punk and such seismic sartorial shifts as the expunging of slacks and the “universally distressing phenomenon” of the T-Shirt on the Fat Man.

Berkmann wears his wisdom lightly in an engaging read that knows its (crumbling) audience without ever feeling cynical. Yes, he will make you guffaw on public transport but there are also moving passages about the mid-lifer’s filial duties, as well as a philosophical enquiry into the plight of the middle-aged hermit, tucked away in his shed and nurturing an obsession with facts (news websites, military history, true crime) in place of people. In the acknowledgements, Berkmann thanks Nicholas Lezard, a fellow mid-life memoirist whose new book Bitter Experience Has Taught Me promises more of the same –  creaky cricket, excessive amounts of red wine, a glimmer of Wodehousian wit – but with added penury.

April 14, 2013

Wisden: 150 not out

by Andre

WISDEN 150th edition Robert Winder THE LITTLE WONDER
It’s set to be a thrilling summer of cricket with Test matches against New Zealand, the ICC Champions Trophy and the Ashes Test series against Australia. There’s also a publishing landmark with the 150th edition of Wisden, the cricketers’ almanack, available now priced £50. The annual reference book was first published in 1864 by John Wisden, the 5ft 4ins Sussex fast bowler known as the ‘Little Wonder’, at the price of a shilling for 112 pages (the latest edition weighs in at 1,584 pages).

In 1889, it began compiling what would become its famous cricketers of the year list, so by 2000 it was well placed to come up with five cricketers of the century, headed by Don Bradman. Even though it’s a venerable volume, Wisden’s never been too fusty: it made Claire Taylor one of its cricketers of the year in 2009, while the latest issue considers Kevin Pietersen and Twitter and features Steve Davies on being the first openly gay international cricketer. It even broke with tradition in 2003 and put a photograph on the front – Michael Vaughan was the cover star – but the Eric Ravilious woodcut of Victorian gentlemen was soon back where it belonged, having graced the cover since the 75th edition in 1938 (that was also the year it became bright yellow).

Wisden readers will also be fascinated by The Little Wonder: The Remarkable History  of Wisden by Robert Winder, as well as a host of new cricketing volumes including The Promise of Endless Summer, a book of cricket lives from the Daily Telegraph; 80 Not Out: My Favourite Cricket Memories by Dickie Bird; and We’ll Get ‘Em in Sequins by Max Davidson, a unique look at the changing nature of masculinity, told through the lens of a series of Yorkshire County Cricket Club player portraits through the ages.