A Lot of Hard Yakka

Published: 1997
Pages: 311
Author: Hughes, Simon
Publisher: Headline Book Publishing
Rating: 4 stars

A Lot of Hard Yakka

This would have to be one of the funniest cricket books ever written; you would think it would be the very antithesis of It Never Rains…A Cricketer’s Lot by Peter Roebuck, which was dark and brooding.

But in fact through the humour you can still see in Simon Hughes book all of the foibles, stresses and insecurities displayed by seemingly every first class cricketer who has picked up a bat, ball or gloves.

Hughes makes mention that he is best remembered for being hit for six in the last over of the NatWest final in 1988 by Neil Smith, which helped Warwickshire to a memorable victory.

Simon Hughes showed up to Lords in 1980 with three other young hopefuls, all of whom, except Ellis managed a decent first class career, although only Hughes lasted at Middlesex for the majority of his career.

The four youngsters were:
Richard Ellis (Nepo) 40 Matches- bat=28.85
Kevan James (Jamesy) 225 Matches- bat=30.45- bowl= 31.91
Rajesh Maru (Rat) 229 Matches- bat=17.04- bowl= 33.61
Simon Hughes (Hughesy) 205 Matches- bat=11.37- bowl= 32.48

Kevan James had the great distinction of claiming four wickets in four balls, and it was not a bad four; Messers Rathor, Tendulkar, Dravid and Manjrekar.

Not a book of stats and figures and how ‘I claimed 4-28 and we won the match, our fifth in a row to start the season’. Hughes has a great ability to describe his fellow cricketers with not only humour but also with great pathos, and a knack of summing up the character of a cricketer in a simple observation.

Mike Gatting
‘what’s the steak like, Gatt?’ inquired Botham.
‘two were underdone but I enjoyed the third’
John Embury
Often naked in the dressing room, his team-mates thought he should have been born a West Indian!

We also meet other greats described warts and all, such as Angus Fraser, Desmond Haynes, Mike Brearley and Phil Edmonds seemingly one of the most complicated personalities in cricket history.

In between a 14 year cricket career, we ‘watch’ as Hughes becomes married and divorced, plays in New Zealand, Australia and South Africa, and becomes a professional sports journalist.

If you want to really find out what goes on in a county dressing room than A Lot of Hard Yakka is the best book on the subject written so far.

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