The physical demise of any sportsman not only evokes feelings of sadness but also transports the mourner into a world of nostalgia graced by both pleasure and pain. While the fact that the athlete no longer resides in the physical world might bring immeasurable grief to his/her fans, the very acts performed by the departed soul in his/her chosen theater of dreams provides a cause for celebration (or in some rare unfortunate cases phlegmatic derision). Death of a sportsman, more often than not lends itself to an almost paradoxical joie de vivre brimming with the very essence of life and living.
The Daily Telegraph, under the able stewardship of Max Hastings and Hugh Massingberd introduced the concept of a daily obituaries page dedicated to paying tributes to athletes renowned and reclusive. This collection represents an anthology of such tributes to people associated closely with the word of cricket. Widening the breadth of coverage to include not just players, but also dedicated scoring men, umpires of integrity and commentators oozing class, this book makes for some inspirational, humurous and at times, plaintive reading.
Established writers such as the redoubtable E.W.Swanton, the delectable Michael Parkinson, and the articulate Sir John Arlott all remember the rich legacy left behind by some fine cricketers. In turn cricketers such as Simon Hughes, Derek Pringle and Mark Nicholas fondly focus on the achievements of some of their own peers and contemporaries, lost too early to the cricketing world. The former Prime Minister of England, John Major’s heartfelt tribute to his boyhood hero Dennis Compton is a classic.
Reputed cricketers such as The Don and Keith Miller are placed alongside eccentric entertainers in the nature of Bryan ‘Bomber’ Wells. The most indefatigable cricket scorer of all Bill Frindall gets a poignant mention as do John Arlott and Brian Johnston, two of the greatest commentators of all time. The adorable and superstitious David Shepherd attracts the attention of the reader in the company of the Right Reverend Lord Sheppard of Liverpool.
Humorous anecdotes, rare on field performances and rarer off the field experiences adorn the pages of this book, making it an excellent read.
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