Bails and Boardrooms: How Cricket Changed My LifeMartin Chandler |
Author: Nash, David
Rating: 3.5 stars
Some books are easier to read than others and, as a general rule, if you get lost in a book and read it from start to finish in a day, then it must be a good ‘un. Bails and Boardrooms took me less than a day to read, although it was a bit of a strange day, Sunday 11 July, the one where the nation had, depending on when we woke up, between ten and twelve hours to kill before that fateful football match between England and Italy.
The book is certainly an unusual one, and I did wonder whether to review it at all. In fact I had almost decided not to, but then thought I should at least take one lesson from it, that being that the easy option is rarely the best. That is a truism I have always known but, as the years have passed, is something I have tended to overlook with increasing frequency, so if nothing else David Nash has my thanks for reminding me of that.
So who and what is David Nash? His life and his book are divisible into two distinct compartments, his cricket career and his business career, although I should perhaps stress that his narrative does not set out to separate the two. The cricket career was a decent one, but there is a hint of under achievement. As a wicketkeeper batsman for Middlesex between 1995 and 2009 he was reasonably successful, but as a youngster who in a dozen Under-19 Tests averaged a Bradmanesque 99.50 he must surely have expected to go on to greater things?
But an account of his cricket career is not the main thrust of Nash’s book. He looks back on it at various points, and tells a few stories, but uses it mainly to illustrate his main theme, which is the success he has made of his life in business after his retirement from the game. That success is all the more laudable because of the mental health problems that affected Nash whilst he was at Middlesex, one manifestation of which was to cause him on occasion to feign injury. Again however, like the cricket, those issues are in the background rather than front and centre and, if I am not much mistaken, in some cases seem to have been turned to Nash’s advantage in his later endeavours.
In the main however Bails and Boardrooms gives Nash’s account of why, rather more than how, the D&G Group that he launched with his brother after he left Middlesex has succeeded, and in that sense this is going to be a book that will appeal rather more to the young and ambitious amongst us rather than those who, like this reviewer, are much closer to the end of their business careers than the beginning and have long since lost any entrepreneurial hunger they might once have had.
Despite the above I did still find what Nash had to say of some interest, albeit primarily because I fully realise that I would have benefitted from some of his advice thirty years ago. I cannot say that I am particularly confident I would have followed it, but at least I would have had the opportunity, and if nothing else my experience does at least confirm that the bulk, and very possibly all, of what he has to say is correct. The cricketing backdrop also creates interest, unlike the only other ‘business book’ I have ever looked at, one supposedly authored by the recently departed President of the United States. That one, probably equally worthwhile had I tried a bit harder with it, I was unable to get very far with at all.
For my part I would certainly have preferred more cricket and less business in Bails and Boardrooms, but there remains much of value in Nash’s writing, and even if much of it was wasted on me its originality still merits a wide readership. The only thing I was slightly frustrated by, and this is simply borne of curiosity, is the lack of anything particularly concrete on the subject of how Nash’s business is doing at the moment given that, as it is essentially a hospitality business, the last 18 months must have been a struggle. No doubt the consequent idle moments for Nash are the reason why he has found the time to write Bails and Boardrooms, and the fact that he has done so without any obvious assistance and produced such a readable book also speaks volumes for his talent and his tenacity.