Cricket Web Book of the Year 2008

Published: 2008
Pages: 294
Author: Tony Laughton
Publisher: MCC in association with Boundary Books
Rating: 5 stars

Cricket Web Book of the Year 2008

2008 Book of The Year Captain of The Crowd

Last year was an excellent one for the cricketing bibliophile with a succession of quality titles being published across the globe. That being said for this reviewer, as for Archie, there was one new title which still managed to stand head and shoulders above the competition.

Author Tony Laughton gave an indication of his diligence and writing skills in 2002 on the appearance of his first cricket book which was an appreciation of AD Taylor. The Cricketologist, as Taylor was known, was a largely forgotten journalist, author, and cricket book dealer/collector of the early twentieth century.

As enjoyable as Laughton’s previous work was history will surely record Captain of the Crowd as his magnum opus. The book has set standards for this type of sporting biography which, while they may and, hopefully, will be matched in years to come, I cannot see them being surpassed.

Michael Down of Boundary Books, who has published both of Laughton’s books said, “On behalf of Tony, I am delighted that Captain of the Crowd has received such recognition from Cricket Web. Tony spent 10 years researching this fascinating story and we put a lot of effort into the production of a high quality book that would please readers and collectors alike. The story of Albert Craig is one of sport’s great untold dramas. In his lifetime, Craig no doubt surprised himself by achieving widespread admiration and renown in the world of Victorian cricket and football, and now, thanks to Tony’s book, his story and rhymes have reached a twenty-first century audience. How amazed he would have been to know that he was also reaching every corner of the planet via Cricket Web!”

You can buy copies direct from the publisher at http://www.boundarybooks.com

Runner Up Jack Fingleton

A Cricket Book of the Year award is a traditionally a hard one for all the reviewers to agree upon. How do you compare the biography of a player dead for decades, with a Ricky Ponting or Steve Waugh tour diary, a ‘ghosted’ autobiography of a current star, or a historical review of Bodyline? My personal views on what constitutes a good cricket book are quite simple – it should be well written, cohesive and comprehensive. What separates a good cricket book from a great one is perhaps less tangible or clear cut, however, it often comes down to the author’s ability to provide either new information or deliver the material in a different context that informs as well as entertains.

In 2008, my selection for the CricketWeb Book of the Year is “Jack Fingleton” by Greg Growden as it certainly meets all the necessary criteria for greatness. It is a wonderfully researched and carefully constructed work, and is based upon a genuinely interesting personality. There are occasions when, no matter how skilled the author, the subject matter simply is not fascinating enough to sustain the interest of the reader. This is clearly not the case with this book, with Growden detailing a multitude of anecdotes and events that occurred both during Fingleton’s cricketing career and in his post-playing days. The author has used personal letters and correspondence with other famous players of the era including Bill O’Reilly in order to portray a realistic picture of the man Jack Fingleton was.

A lot of cricket lovers would be aware of Fingleton only in light of his very public feud with Don Bradman. This book does little to dispel this impression, with a strong emphasis upon Bradman and Fingleton’s relationship. However, it would appear that Fingleton did spend a large percentage of his life obsessing over Bradman, and the book is perhaps accurately reflective of this fixation.

Growden’s first cricket book in 17 years is highly recommended reading for all fans of the game. There have been many other wonderful cricket books published around the world this year, but it is my strong belief that “Jack Fingleton” is clearly the best Australian cricket book of the year.

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