Amazing books that will improve the readers’ knowledge of the game and teach young cricketers a lot of things about the sport
The lockdown might be strict in some parts of the world but by avoiding outside contact one can be both healthy and wise. With the Holy month of Ramadan beginning and no sports activity happening anywhere, the smartest way to spend your time is by staying indoors and reading books, preferably those about your favorite sport — cricket. Howzat! is one such Boxset that consists of five amazing cricket books that will not only improve your knowledge of the game, but teach you many things so that you can emerge as a better cricketer once COVID-19 ends.
What makes Howzat! so special, you might ask. Well, it has as many as five books in a slipcase that are as diverse as the finest batsmen to play the game. One of the books is the autobiography of one of the most famous cricketers-turned-commentators around; another is a Guide To Captaincy by one of the best captains; then there are the memoirs of the first bowler to take 300 wickets; one is an all-time list from the father of modern cricket writing; and there is a book that features Royal Writing from the best cricket writers, ever. Convinced? Let’s move ahead!
The first book that catches your eye in this collection is As It Was (2006), the memoirs of former England’s Fred Trueman who passed away in 2006. He was not only the highest wicket-taker in Test cricket when he retired in 1965 but was also one of the fiercest bowlers of that time, earning the nickname Fiery Fred. He talks about his career at length in this book and speaks from his heart — his initial struggles as a cricketer, the highs and lows of his private life and above all, his clashes with the establishment. The Picador Book of Cricket celebrates the game by bringing forward the writings of the best writers ever including Sir Neville Cardus, John Woodcock, John Arlott, and EW Swanton. These pieces were around for years but bringing them together is a service to cricket literature and to those who love to write about the game. Their articles are so precise and crisp that you will forget that they were written even before you were born!
Then there is Mike Brearley’s the Art of Captaincy (1985) which is known as the best book for potential captains out there. It was written three years after he retired from the game in 1982 but updated it to suit the modern-day cricketers. He uses his expertise as a professional psychoanalyst to analyse the game as a captain and pens down a book that caters to all kinds of situations, be it batting first, being sent to field, selecting a team or even finalizing the batting orders. All captains of today should go through this book because it teaches them tricks of the trade without leaving the comfort of the reading chair.
Then there is Boycott — The Autobiography (1987) which deals with the life and times of one of the most colorful characters to don the whites. If you didn’t know that Geoff Boycott went into self-exile for three years, what controversies he was part of during his career and why many termed him the greatest batsmen of his generation, then you must read this book. Updated in 2006, it shocks readers who are new to the game because not even in their wildest dreams they would have imagined that the man they adore behind the microphone was wild and rebellious when it came to playing the game.
Last but not the least, there is John Woodcock’s One Hundred Greatest Cricketers (1998) which is the most authentic cricket list you will ever find. The only drawback of this book is that it hasn’t been updated since, but when you get to read about cricketers who were around till the turn of the century, that too from the minds of one of best cricket writers alive, then there should be no issue. As a Pakistani, we must feel proud that nearly all the greats from the first fifty years of Pakistan’s independence feature in this book. Yes, from Fazal Mahmood to Hanif Mohammad, Imran Khan to Javed Miandad, Wasim Akram to Waqar Younis, these legends have a full chapter to their name where their achievements are discussed, hailed by the writer and appreciated by the readers. Do search for your favorite cricketers from other teams as well and find out what made them so great!