Wodehouse at the Wicket
Author: Murray Hedgcock (Editor)
Publisher: Arrow Books
Rating: 4 stars
By Archie Mac
30 Oct 2011
Even those who have not read P.G. Wodehouse, are familiar with at least one of his characters the archetypical butler "Jeeves". Only cricket fans would know Jeeves was named after a Warwickshire professional first class cricketer who was unfortunately killed during the Great War.
Jeeves is just an example of the link to cricket evident throughout Wodehouse's writing. Unfortunately after Wodehouse found fame in America his mentions of cricket in his writing became fewer and fewer, until eventually even his love for the game diminished to the point where in the 1960s he publicly declared his preference for baseball over cricket.
So this book predominately covers Wodehouse's work during the early part of his writing career, when he was based in England. It is not an exhaustive list of every mention he makes of cricket, which let's face it would have made for a pretty boring read. Instead the pieces selected are on the subject of cricket and are complete stories.
The stories are mainly of a player beating the odds and winning a match by a great piece of batting or bowling. The type of story you may find in a "Boys Own Annual" however the difference is, first the quality of the writing and second the author's ability to add a subplot which keeps the reader's interest to the very end.
The other positive about the writings of Wodehouse is the mandatory happy ending, so you can relax and not become overly concerned for the characters knowing you can trust the writer to leave you with the ?warm and fuzzy feeling?.
Wodehouse?s understanding of the intricacies of cricket is impressive. He never uses the wrong terminology and presents realistic match situations and conditions which makes for a more believable read.
The quality of the writing may be gauged by Wodehouse's assertion that "Mike" a book about a school boy - which includes some cricket - was his very best book; an opinion shared by George Orwell.
The introduction by Murray Hedgcock, which accounts for a quarter of the book, is well written and researched, it would be be hard to believe there is much else to learn about Wodehouse and his relationship with cricket.
Don't be surprised if once you finished this book, you, like me, go on a Wodehouse collecting spree and meet Jeeves, Psmith, Mike and all the other wonderful Wodehouse creations.
The attached image is of the first edition of the book. A new paperback edition, with an extra chapter of Wodehousean cricket odds and ends is now available from Amazon and all good book shops