Thursday, April 12, 2007

The Summer Game, The Winter Book

I'm going through a phase right now - I'm about to dump almost my entire collection of Don Bradman books onto a certain bookstore in Adelaide. I've decided to keep the ones I want to keep along with my clippings - because nobody's getting those for a long, long while, but I just realised that I have not only doubles of some titles, but bloody triples and even quads!!! I have to say that a lot of them aren't that much chop as it is, they're light on both content and detail and as such I won't miss them at all. Since we moved here in 2004 they've been in a box within a box and when I pulled them out the dust was heavy.

When it comes to such books there's a limit that you want to stick with. In my own opinion you really only need the following:
The Bradman Albums
Farewell To Cricket
The Art Of Cricket (with CD Rom)
Bodyline Autopsy by David Frith
The Don by Roland Perry (updated and revised edition)
Bradman by Michael Page
Bradman's First Tour and
Bradman - Challenging The Myth and as far as I'm concerned you've got all you need. The rest are just eye candy and just show the same photos and reprint the same anecdotes as the ones I've listed.

Plus which there's a lot of other and at times more interesting cricket books out there. If you get the chance then get anything written by Gideon Haigh, a writer almost without peer. His books on Warwick Armstrong, World Series Cricket and his classic, The Summer Game, are essential on my reading list. Haigh has set a great benchmark not just for cricketing writers but for writers and biographers everywhere. I've given Haigh books to people who don't even like cricket, let alone watch it, and to a person they've come back asking can they keep the books (of course - books are for sharing) because they've enjoyed them so much. Haigh has turned more than one of my friends onto cricket. He writes in a style that reminds me of Jack Fingelton, only without some of the bitterness (Fingleton had, shall we say, 'issues' with some of his cricketing peers). Mind you Fingleton wrote some classic as well - his book Cricket Crisis remains the best I've seen about the Bodyline as written by a player who was not only there, but managed to make some runs against it. While you're at it pick up anything by David Frith, another writer and biographer who shows talents above and beyond. His Bodyline Autopsy should be the last word on that entire series and it's aftermath, unless someone can suddenly discover caches of notes and accounts not before seen. Read that book and that era, those games, will come to life from the pages. He also wrote one of the most interesting of all the cricketing books, By His Own Hand, which documented cricketing suicides, those players who've taken their own lives for various reasons. The underlying theme was one of depression and as a book it makes for fascinating reading.

Funny isn't it? You collect something for so long and suddenly wake up and ask yourself, "Why?" Or is it just me?

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