Ashes to Ashes

Published: 2014
Pages: 304
Author: Haigh, Gideon
Publisher: Simon and Schuster
Rating: 4.5 stars

Ashes to Ashes

“The Bradman of cricket writing” exclaims the dust jacket of Ashes to Ashes. Nothing motivates a cricket book reviewer to take a pot shot more than a claim such as that. Although after reading the book the only shot a critic could take would be as part of a 21 gun salute. An example:

“Thirty-four-year-old Harris is a remarkable bowler, having led the conventional paceman’s career in reverse, starting life as a fourth seamer and graduating steadily to the new ball, the equivalent of working your way from backing vocals to front man. He has the presence now of an ageing rocker, mellowed and domesticated by the years but still capable of belting out a mean rendition of Livin’ on a Prayer – which, in a sense, is how he has endured, with the help of medical science, faith and perseverance”.

If the book is not in the same class as Haigh’s Ashes 2011, that is simply due to the quality of the series’ under discussion, even though there are double the Test matches covered in an average tour book. The ten Tests dissected are the back to back Ashes series which commenced in England in 2013 and finished in Australia the following year. Haigh follows his successful format of his previous Ashes books with articles as written at the time collected and accompanied by a brief summary of each Test. Ashes to Ashes, perhaps because of the amount of Tests covered, is in a smaller font than previous efforts which can be a bit of a strain, but this is about the only criticism.

There was an Australian sports media showed called This Sporting Life which had the catchphrase “when too much sport is barely enough”. Perhaps even the show’s hosts, HG and Roy, would have mused that too much cricket was not barely enough but was in fact too much. Still Haigh does his best to educate and entertain as he takes us from Game of Thrones to the battle of Waterloo to the smiles of Shane Warne and Richard Branson. There is plenty of cricket too, and some serious analysis and warnings to the controllers of the game about the possible death knell to three let alone five Test series.

When they want to make a case for someone as the best batsman they compare him to Bradman. They compare Bradman to no one because he is simply the best. When in years to come you read a dust jacket that reads “better than Haigh”, smile to yourself and go back and peruse Ashes to Ashes to see why he is truly the Bradman of cricket writing.

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