The Willow Wand — Some Cricket Myths Explored by Derek Birley

Published by Queen Anne Press, 1979, Hardback in Dust Wrapper. 1st Ed.

Condition: Very Good in Good Dust Wrapper. Heavily faded at the spine of the dust wrapper and onto parts of the lower panel. Pages very gently age-tanned.

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Illustrated with black and white photographs. From the cover: Cricket has always been more than a game to some it has seemed like an ethical religion, a training for war, or a high art form; always, though, it has been the quintessentially English sport. The roots of its powerful mythology and romantic literature lie deep in the past, and its values reflect a vanished age the glorious heyday of late Victorian and Edwardian splendour when golden amateurs consolidated the Empire and withstood the Kaiser.

The Willow Wand explores in spirited fashion the gap between myth and reality. It looks at amateurism in which the gentlemen were paid more than the players; a folk-hero, W.G. Grace, who was too clever to cheat; the virility cult; the ruthless D.R. Jardine putting down the colonial upstart Bradman; the autocrats of MCC; Lord Harris rooting out Bolshevism at home and building up cricket in India; Sir Pelham Warner upholding the high moral code; Sir Neville Cardus bestowing intellectual respectability on a feudal dream; and in more recent times riots in the West Indies, the DOliveira affair, and the advent of Kerry Packer.

Derek Birley has written a marvellously entertaining book, and approached his subject with humour, wit and an original vision. Games, he stresses, are a serious business, but they need not be solemn; the same verdict could apply to The Willow Wand a book written in a spirit of deep affection for the great game of cricket.


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