Bowl, Sleep, Repeat

Published: 2019
Pages: 288
Author: Anderson, James and White, Felix
Publisher: Octopus Publishing
Rating: 3.5 stars


This is the sort of book that a man could get quite sniffy about. It is only half a dozen years since Anderson published an autobiography, and it certainly isn’t yet time for another one. In general terms Bowl, Sleep, Repeat is, essentially, of an autobiographical nature, but its purpose is clearly an attempt to cash in on the reasonable degree of success of the Tailenders podcast that Anderson shares with co-author Felix White.

If I am going to stick with it a book like this desperately needs a good start and, thankfully, it gets one. Anderson’s introduction is a moan about a fast bowler’s lot when compared to the work of those who are experts in the game’s other disciplines. What could have been irritating manages to hit just the right note. It is clear that Anderson’s tongue is firmly in his cheek but, at the same time, he does make some good points and does so in an entertaining way.

After that start much of the book’s content is essentially autobiographical although, not having read it, I am unable to say whether there is any significant repetition of material from Jimmy. I would have thought that there must be some, but perhaps not a great deal.

The team effort between White and Anderson is at its most effective when dealing with what the reader does not necessarily expect. For example I did not anticipate reading what amounts to a technical chapter on the various types of delivery Anderson relies on. There is one here though, and as a bonus for those whose playing ability has never come close to matching their enthusiasm for the game it is written in an easily understandable way.

There are some entertaining sidelights on the way cricket is played. The experience of sharing rooms on tour is one of the amusing aspects and something I learned for the first time was exactly how the cricketing drug police go about their work – I can see now why that must be bloody annoying for professional sportsmen, and I will never again rush to judgement on the news of tests being missed. There is also a good look at cricketing superstitions. That is something that I am familiar with from many other cricketer’s books, but not as far as the current generation are concerned.

One thing I thought I might see after opening the book, but don’t, is some score settling but there is none of that, at least not in the manner which has irritated me more than once when reading the thoughts of Kevin Pietersen. In that respect I do find myself wondering whether, given the length of time over which the pair were England teammates, there is much to be read into the fact that the one man who seldom gets a mention at all in Bowl, Sleep, Repeat is the aforementioned KP.

Three teammates who do get chapters devoted to them are Graeme Swann, Alistair Cook and, of course, Stuart Broad. All three are clearly great friends of Anderson’s and his introduction to the subject of Broad is certainly an eyeopening one:-

How can I forget the first time we met?

That flowing blonde hair.

Striking blue eyes.

That perfect figure

I thought,”My God… she’s beautiful”.

It is reassuring to know already at that stage that the book is not entirely serious, and were that there were any chance of Cook, Swann or Broad being offended by what is said about them all three are give a right of reply, and the contents of those responses serve only to underline the strength of the friendships involved.

There is obviously a good deal of cricket in the book, albeit in a generally fairly abstract way until, towards the end, Anderson dwells at length on four Ashes tests. These range from the disappointment of the first day of the 2006/07 series through a fascinating personal perspective on that partnership with Monty Panesar at Cardiff in 2009. Anderson then moves onto Australia’s dismissal for 98 on Boxing Day 2010 and, finally, the ten wicket haul Anderson had in the victory at Trent bridge in 2013.

The book closes with a chapter entitled And Another Thing …. which comes in two parts. The first represents Anderson’s thoughts on the much heralded (throughout my life anyway) imminent death of Test cricket. His words on the subject and his insights into the views of other current players (in the main generally rather than specifically) are eminently sensible, and also reassuring. Similar is the personal reflection on himself in the final part of the book, that being The Complications of Being a Shy Fast Bowler, in which we get Anderson’s own take on the different personalities of the unassuming off field family man and the hard-bitten old pro who brooks no nonsense on the field.

Bowl, Sleep, Repeat is a well written and well illustrated effort and I am pleased to report that, unlike the five-day game, there are no dull passages in this one. It is an interesting and enjoyable insight into the life of England’s most successful bowler and, best of all, he achieves that without creating controversy at the expense of others.

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