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England: The Biography: The Story of English Cricket

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England: The Biography is the most comprehensive account of the England cricket team that has ever been published, taking the reader into the heart of the action and the team dynamics that have helped shape their success, or otherwise. It is now 140 years since England first played Test match cricket and, for much of that time, it has struggled to perform to the best of it England: The Biography is the most comprehensive account of the England cricket team that has ever been published, taking the reader into the heart of the action and the team dynamics that have helped shape their success, or otherwise. It is now 140 years since England first played Test match cricket and, for much of that time, it has struggled to perform to the best of its capabilities. In the early years, amateurs would pick and choose which matches and tours they would play; subsequently, the demands of the county game - and the petty jealousies that created - would prevent many from achieving their best. It was only in the 1990s that central contracts were brought in, and Team England began to receive the best possible support from an ever-increasing backroom team.  But cricket isn't just about structures, it depends like no other sport on questions of how successful the captain is in motivating and leading his team, and how well different personalities and egos are integrated and managed in the changing room. From Joe Root and Alastair Cook back to Mike Atherton, Mike Brearley and Ray Illingworth, England captains have had a heavy influence on proceedings. Recent debates over Kevin Pietersen were nothing new, as contemporaries of W.G.Grace would doubtless recognise. As England close in on playing their 1000th Test, this is a brilliant and unmissable insight into the ups and downs of that story.


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England: The Biography is the most comprehensive account of the England cricket team that has ever been published, taking the reader into the heart of the action and the team dynamics that have helped shape their success, or otherwise. It is now 140 years since England first played Test match cricket and, for much of that time, it has struggled to perform to the best of it England: The Biography is the most comprehensive account of the England cricket team that has ever been published, taking the reader into the heart of the action and the team dynamics that have helped shape their success, or otherwise. It is now 140 years since England first played Test match cricket and, for much of that time, it has struggled to perform to the best of its capabilities. In the early years, amateurs would pick and choose which matches and tours they would play; subsequently, the demands of the county game - and the petty jealousies that created - would prevent many from achieving their best. It was only in the 1990s that central contracts were brought in, and Team England began to receive the best possible support from an ever-increasing backroom team.  But cricket isn't just about structures, it depends like no other sport on questions of how successful the captain is in motivating and leading his team, and how well different personalities and egos are integrated and managed in the changing room. From Joe Root and Alastair Cook back to Mike Atherton, Mike Brearley and Ray Illingworth, England captains have had a heavy influence on proceedings. Recent debates over Kevin Pietersen were nothing new, as contemporaries of W.G.Grace would doubtless recognise. As England close in on playing their 1000th Test, this is a brilliant and unmissable insight into the ups and downs of that story.

30 review for England: The Biography: The Story of English Cricket

  1. 4 out of 5

    Ruth

    Despite the title, this isn't so much of a biography as a thematic survey organised in roughly chronological order. Wilde assumes that you already know the basics of the story - the origin of the Ashes, Bodyline, the rise of the West Indies, Packer, Botham's Ashes, the lean years of the 90s, etc -and spends his words exploring the background issues. This means that you find out a lot of interesting behind-the-scenes stuff - and each chapter concludes with some selected stats, with more stats at Despite the title, this isn't so much of a biography as a thematic survey organised in roughly chronological order. Wilde assumes that you already know the basics of the story - the origin of the Ashes, Bodyline, the rise of the West Indies, Packer, Botham's Ashes, the lean years of the 90s, etc -and spends his words exploring the background issues. This means that you find out a lot of interesting behind-the-scenes stuff - and each chapter concludes with some selected stats, with more stats at the back - although I did find that occasionally I was struggling with the lack of a framing narrative, especially in the early chapters (I don't really know much about cricket pre-WW1). I therefore think this book would be improved by spending just a chapter or two at the outset laying out the basic historical narrative of English cricket since 1877. It will also need a new chapter added soon to cover England's first-ever World Cup win.

  2. 5 out of 5

    Stephen

    interesting book about England cricket team from the origins to the modern day

  3. 4 out of 5

    Stephen

    A good solid assessment of trends in the running of the England cricket team. If you want match reports & details of individual feats this is not the book for you. The author shows his journalistic skills by using personalities & performance to illustrate the evolution of England. Particularly good on the clash between amateur & professional, almost being two separate teams within the same squad; and the linked question of what was fair payment for players representing their country.

  4. 4 out of 5

    Paul

    A decent overview of the England Cricket team, though not what I was expecting. Let’s be honest; this book is really dry for the first 2/3s of it’s length, only kicking on from the 1960s. My biggest single issue though is that Wilde seems unsure which format to use. The latter parts are predominantly chronological, whilst the first half is divided more by issue than date, this makes it difficult to follow for those readers (like myself) who lack the pre-knowledge of cricket before the war.

  5. 4 out of 5

    Peter K

    I've been a fan of cricket since I was a child, fond memories of watching test matches on the television in summer times past so with birthday vouchers to hand I sought out a history book to read and chose this one. It is a good book full of fascinating insight into thevdevelopment on the England men's cricket team from the 1870's right upto date. Players I'd barely heard of came to life as well as many I was being introduced to for the first time. The length of time that the artificial divide bet I've been a fan of cricket since I was a child, fond memories of watching test matches on the television in summer times past so with birthday vouchers to hand I sought out a history book to read and chose this one. It is a good book full of fascinating insight into thevdevelopment on the England men's cricket team from the 1870's right upto date. Players I'd barely heard of came to life as well as many I was being introduced to for the first time. The length of time that the artificial divide between amateurs and professionals held the game back is explained well and the arc of development of the team is done justice by the author but he has so much ground to cover that he necessarily skips from one feature to the next when I would have enjoyed a bit more dwelling on the detail. I accept if he had done that I would have been reading a book of some 2000 pages but maybe something of this nature deserved a couple of volumes. Like many cricket fans I love a good statistic and the ones in this book are a bit scattered around the text and less than complete (lots if top tens ) which the statto in me would have appreciateda bit more detail on . Overall an enjoyable book with lits in it for the cricket fan but , amazingly for a book of more than 600 pagss, a bit too bite sized in places for me

  6. 5 out of 5

    Huw Rhys

    I am an unapologetic cricket anorak. I helped build a cricket museum. I've followed the England cricket team from a very early age. I've read most cricket books going - especially "historical" ones. So this should have been one of the best reads of my life. Maybe my expectations were just too high, so it was inevitable that this would be a disappointment. But what a disappointment! Where do I begin? The author tries to order things by theme - whereas a "history of English cricket" ought to be just t I am an unapologetic cricket anorak. I helped build a cricket museum. I've followed the England cricket team from a very early age. I've read most cricket books going - especially "historical" ones. So this should have been one of the best reads of my life. Maybe my expectations were just too high, so it was inevitable that this would be a disappointment. But what a disappointment! Where do I begin? The author tries to order things by theme - whereas a "history of English cricket" ought to be just that - something written chronologically, where stories and careers can be developed naturally. But the higgledy piggledy ordering of the narrative gave me the impression that I was reading many stories, or overlapping parts of them at least, over and over again. Another really annoying feature was the multitude of footnotes which appeared on the majority of pages throughout the book. Footnotes break the reading flow, and makes the process become cumbersome. An extremely disappointing and frustrating read, sadly.

  7. 4 out of 5

    Toby

    Possibly the greatest flaw in this book, which is not of the author's making, is that it was written in 2018, a year before England's dramatic World Cup win, and a year before Ben Stokes played what many commentators were breathlessly describing as the greatest innings ever played by a man in an England shirt. Perhaps an updated version with a final chapter charting this apotheosis is even now with the publishers. That aside this is a workmanlike and thorough description and analysis of the journ Possibly the greatest flaw in this book, which is not of the author's making, is that it was written in 2018, a year before England's dramatic World Cup win, and a year before Ben Stokes played what many commentators were breathlessly describing as the greatest innings ever played by a man in an England shirt. Perhaps an updated version with a final chapter charting this apotheosis is even now with the publishers. That aside this is a workmanlike and thorough description and analysis of the journey of the English Cricket team from the earliest days of amateurs and professionals through to the world of 20/20, DRS and central contracts. It is packed with information and each chapter ends with some helpful and sometimes quirky statistics that won't be gleaned just from glancing through Wisdom. The book, however, lacks a little bit of verve and charm. There are too few anecdotes, and some of the great moments of English cricket are alluded to, or simply noted as facts. Nowhere will you find a description of Headingley 1981 or Edgbaston 2005, even though the exploits of Botham, Willis and Flintoff are mentioned. Shane Warne's "Gatting Ball" gets no mention, nor does Tony Grieg's "grovelling" to the West Indies. This is a shame because the beauty of cricket does not, despite what some may think, lie in its obsession with statistics. There is a drama that is played out over five days featuring duels like Atherton against Donald that deserve rhapsodising. Wilde presumably felt that 500+ pages was quite enough, and who can blame him, but I would have liked to have enjoyed this book more rather than simply finding it exhaustively informative.

  8. 4 out of 5

    Paul Frame

    A comprehensive and thematic history of the England and Wales men’s national cricket team. It would be great if this was paired with a history of the women’s team in a similar book and I feel that the last 20 years were not given the space to breathe as they should have done. The volume of matches and series in this period are not covered as much as they might have been? It was a throughly rewarding read though and the chapters themselves make it easy to digest in chunks at a time.

  9. 4 out of 5

    Lawrence White

    Thorough, especially on the Amateur vs Professional era and the personalities and techniques of the last few coaches, but unfortunately rather dry with little space for anecdotes, personalities and memorable games or performances. More a history of the administration of the game than of the team's standout players and achievements. Thorough, especially on the Amateur vs Professional era and the personalities and techniques of the last few coaches, but unfortunately rather dry with little space for anecdotes, personalities and memorable games or performances. More a history of the administration of the game than of the team's standout players and achievements.

  10. 4 out of 5

    Patrick Tarbox

    Outstanding, but also extremely through and advanced. Not a beginners level book.

  11. 4 out of 5

    Alex

    Highly interesting and readable history of England's cricket team from its inception to the present day. I really enjoyed the book and learnt a great deal about international cricket. Highly interesting and readable history of England's cricket team from its inception to the present day. I really enjoyed the book and learnt a great deal about international cricket.

  12. 4 out of 5

    Andrew Atkinson

    A weighty tome. For the cricket fanatic rather than historian. Several nuggets that I hadn’t come across before.

  13. 5 out of 5

    Jack Peacock

    A bit dry. You should like cricket to read this.

  14. 4 out of 5

    Tyrone Milton

  15. 5 out of 5

    Andrew Whitaker

  16. 5 out of 5

    terry wray

  17. 4 out of 5

    Adam

  18. 4 out of 5

    Ian Carroll

  19. 4 out of 5

    David Sewards

  20. 4 out of 5

    John Willis

  21. 4 out of 5

    Graham Mathias

  22. 4 out of 5

    Simon Howe

  23. 5 out of 5

    Jack

  24. 4 out of 5

    JG Review

  25. 5 out of 5

    Richard Ash

  26. 5 out of 5

    Aaron

  27. 5 out of 5

    Nico C

  28. 4 out of 5

    T Guy

  29. 4 out of 5

    Adam

  30. 4 out of 5

    Dave

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