The Cricket Captains of England

Published: 1979
Pages: 235
Author: Gibson, Alan
Publisher: Cassell
Rating: 4.5 stars

The Cricket Captains of England
The Cricket Captains of England

Alan Gibson, for my money, is one of the very best cricket writers; Cardus, ‘Crusoe’ and Haigh included. It is a shame that his output was limited to just a half dozen cricket books.

This book is written in his usual irreverent chatty style. From the preface ‘I have never been much of a man for sums, and I am sure I will have made many statistical errors. I shall be deeply grateful to any reader who does not point them out to me’.

Although the above should not give the people the impression that the book is not a serious dissertation on the leaders of England; Gibson writes with great knowledge and insight into the men and events that have thrust certain players into the responsibility of leadership.

The authors pen portraits of W.G. Grace, Andrew Stoddart, A.C. MacLaren, ‘Plum’ Warner, F.S. Jackson and C.B. Fry are some of the best I have ever read (and I have read more than I care to admit). He captures more of the ‘man’ in a chapter, than some authors manage to capture in an entire book.

The first half of the book is deserving of five stars the second half does not quite reach those lofty standards but is still a fine read. The reasons for this is perhaps the proliferation of Test matches from the 1930s and the resulted increase of captains, which resulted in the author being unable to dedicate enough space to each captain.

Gibson does give his opinion on who he thought to be the greatest of all English captains. I was very confident before reading the book that F.S. Jackson (Gibson wrote a book called Jackson’s Year), would be his choice; I was wrong, but won’t spoil the surprise. A great book this one, don’t miss it!

Gibson was a mentor and friend of another great cricket writer David Foot, who in his own fine cricket book Fragments of Idolatry writes tenderly and sadly of the life of Alan Gibson. Unfortunately gripped by alcohol he dies a lonely man.

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