Caught OutMartin Chandler |
Author: Radford, Brian
Publisher: John Blake
Rating: 4 stars
The dust jacket of Caught Out, published in June of this year, promises Shocking revelations of corruption in International cricket, a declaration that suggested to me that I was about to be treated to a tabloid style expose of all that is wrong in the game. I thought about reading on, but eventually decided to put Caught Out to one side for the rest of the summer. I have to confess that, amidst the excitement of England’s hammering of India, and Lancashire’s nailbiting but ultimately successful quest for their first County Championship in 77 years, I then forgot all about it.
I might never have picked the book up again had I not been asked by someone what the story behind Zulqarnain Haider’s application for political asylum was. I remembered then that there had been a chapter on the story in Brian Radford’s book so I took it down from the shelf, studied the relevant pages, and realised this was actually a book that was well worth reading. Haider’s story was thorough and well researched, and above all objective.
My enthusiam fired I went back to the beginning and read Caught Out properly. It consists of twenty chapters each of which examines one aspect of the seamier side of the game. Not all the stories yet have an ending, Haider’s being one example, and the pending criminal trials of Allen Stanford and the “Pakistan Three” being two others.
There are some older cases, Hansie Cronje being the subject of one of the shorter chapters, and various shady bookmaker type stories crop up, some of which reflect badly on those involved, but others of which show players demonstrating the sort of integrity that those of us who can only dream of representing our countries on the field of play would like to think they would all display.
For those who are interested in the bizarre there is the sad story of ex England all-rounder Chris Lewis’ incarceration for drug trafficking, and the rather pathetic story of Dermot Reeve’s cocaine induced fall from popular Channel 4 pundit to vendor of dodgy Bradman memorabilia. There is also, just to show that some drug use is not quite so damaging, another chapter that takes as its starting point the rather less serious past sins of Messrs Botham and Richards (IVA).
I am particularly grateful to author Brian Radford, clearly a very fine investigative journalist, for demystifying the tragic death of Bob Woolmer. He also rather cleverly invited Darrel Hair to provide a foreword. That foreword is undoubtedly the book’s low point, but the quid pro quo is an illuminating and by definition authoritative account of the forfeiture by Pakistan of the Oval Test of 2006.
As Her Majesty’s Gutter Press know only too well bad news sells, and if a little embellishment here, and a touch of exaggeration there improves the story their philosophy is so be it. It was the prospect of that sort of reporting that caused my initial misgivings about Caught Out, but I should not have jumped to that conclusion. Brian Radford clearly has the sort of probing mind that enables him to get to the bottom of these stories in a way that no purely cricketing journalist could. But he is a cricket lover too, and thankfully so because his deep understanding of the game means that this book does cricket a service, rather than the disservice that, in the hands of another, the same material might have resulted in. Highly recommended.