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Book Review
Downed Under: The Ashes in Australia 2006-2007
Published: 2007
Pages: 298
Author: Gideon Haigh
Publisher: Aurum Press Ltd
Rating: 4 stars
By Archie Mac
19 Jun 2007


I received a telephone call to my small (tiny in fact) business; Archie Macs Cricket Books. It was a woman (you can't say lady anymore apparently) chasing a paperback copy of David Frith's excellent book Bodyline Autopsy.

I informed the person (PC again) that I could find her a copy of the book in a couple of days. 'No good, I am going to the West Indies tomorrow to watch the World Cup, could you suggests another cricket book'?

'of course', I said (I enjoy doing that sort of thing).

'Great just as long as it is not Gideon Haigh, I can't stand his writing'.

After I lifted my jaw off the floor, I replied a little credulously; 'Yes it is a Haigh book and it is my favourite book The Summer Game'.

The woman said she would give it a try, but I have my doubts!

I still find it hard to believe that there are people out there who like cricket but do not enjoy the writing talents of Gideon Haigh.

Even before reading this book I was told by a couple of people that they thought it was a bit of a cop out, being a collection of Haigh's writing on the internet and newspapers during the Ashes period.

It has ever been that way (not the internet part), from EW Swanton to Fender, Warner and even the great Sir Neville Cardus they all release tour books made up from newspaper reports.

Well, I read this book from cover to cover and was only disappointed when I reached the end, he may not have had the once in a life time series of 2005 to cover, but the writing quality is still there in spades.

From The Book
On Rudi Koertzen: "another poor decision from an umpire who is simply not right often enough"

On the MCG: "the biggest [crowd] for a baseball game anywhere; an exhibition match during the 1956 Olympics, watched by 104,700".

On England's field placement: "Gilchrist and Symonds took four easy singles in his first over [Panesar]; two drunks could have managed at least a couple".

On the SCG Ground Announcer: "Mind you, they [Barmy Army] were never anywhere near as noisy as the SCG's imbecile ground announcer, who spoke over proceedings like the host of a tortuous seven-hour game show".

On Steve Harmison: "a fast bowler of enormous gifts, but a cricketer who makes Martin McCague look like a lionheart".

On the Ashes Urn coming back to Australia: "[some] Australians who seem to imagine that the Ashes were burned by Ned Kelly, then taken to England after Gallipoli by a laughing Churchill".

And if anyone rings me asking for a current cricket book to read I will strongly recommend this one, simply a great read.

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