Somerset’s SummerMartin Chandler |
Author: Gibson, Anthony
Publisher: Gibson, Anthony
Rating: 3.5 stars
A diary of a county’s summer, or indeed that of an individual player, is a tried and tested format for a book. They tend not to be bestsellers, but the loyalty of county cricket aficianados that they clearly sell in sufficient numbers to justify the effort. In recent years it has become almost the norm for a Champion County to produce a record of its triumph and, off the top of my head, I can certainly think of Mark Wagh, Brian Brain and Jonathan Agnew who have produced accounts of their personal summers in the past.
Somerset’s Summer is Anthony Gibson’s account of the of 2019 county season. He tells the story of Somerset’s triumph at Lord’s in what, for the time being at least, will be the last major List A final. Alongside that there was an agonisingly close call in the County Championship, the men from the West ending up just eleven points behind eventual champions Essex. The pair met in what appeared to be a mouth watering finale in late September but, sadly, that match was destined to be ruined by the weather and was a tame draw and the county’s long wait for a first title goes on.
This account of the summer is written by Anthony Gibson, a fine writer whose association with Stephen Chalke’s Fairfield Books has already produced a captivating memoir of his late father, Alan, and an excellent autobiography for former Somerset skipper Brian Rose. Anthony’s style is not quite the same as his father’s. He does not have a ‘Shoreditch Sparrow’ or an ‘Old Bald Blighter’, but despite that his stories of each of Somerset’s matches in the Championship, the Royal London Cup and the Blast are much more than reportage.
In his role as a BBC commentator Gibson was an eyewitness to many of these games, but part of the book’s charm is the way in which he describes those matches that he did not attend. Whilst for those he may not have been at the ground in person he was clearly there in spirit, following the play and taking in the drama as it unfolded.
Given the emotional investment that all supporters make in their clubs anyone with an interest in Somerset cricket will enjoy Somerset’s Summer, but the book is not just for them. The way Somerset have always played the game and their enduring search for that elusive Championship pennant means that many neutrals have an affection for the county as well, and even if they don’t everyone loves Marcus Trescothick whose career, sadly, ended with a whimper rather than the roar the entire cricket world would have wished for – in his writings about Tresco a reader familiar with both realises that Anthony Gibson is very much his father’s son.
This review first appeared in Issue 3 of County Cricket Matters