England news September 2, 2013

Wormsley hosts inaugural literature festival

Matt Thacker

Wormsley has already played host to a tie in the new-look Women's Ashes this summer and on Saturday the beautiful ground will continue to innovate when it welcomes the inaugural cricket and literature festival, Words and Wickets.

The event will celebrate the relationship between cricket and literature and promises to be a great day for lovers of cricket and cricket writing.

The Getty Library - containing Caxton's first edition of Chaucer's Canterbury Tales, Shakespeare first folios, Anne Boleyn's psalter and a full set of Wisdens amongst others - will be open to visitors over the course of the day and there will be nets for kids, as well as arts and crafts in a 'stay and play' tent for children of all ages.

In this, the fiftieth year since the publication of CLR James' Beyond a Boundary, cricket literature has received a boost with the launch of The Nightwatchman - the Wisden Cricket Quarterly - and the publication of the Authors XI book, A Season of English Cricket from Hackney to Hambledon, which charts the revival of the side 100 years after Arthur Conan Doyle and PG Wodehouse opened the batting for them, and JM Barrie, AA Milne and Raffles' creator EW Hornung all turned out.

The book sees each player, including Matthew Parker, Kamila Shamsie, William Fiennes, Tom and James Holland, and Anthony McGowan write a chapter, using the fixtures as starting points for essays on cricket and its appeal.

All this and more led Andy Bull, to wonder in the Guardian: "Are we living in a golden age of cricket writing?", arguing that fans are now spoiled for choice, with The Cordon on ESPNCricinfo also providing a groundbreaking development in a mix which includes three cricket magazines and a range of individual blogs.

On 7 September, the gates open at 11am and the action starts half an hour later with a match between the Authors XI and the Actors XI. The sides will feature the likes of Damian Lewis, Sebastian Faulks, William Fiennes and Tom Ward, with live commentary from historian Tom Holland.

As the game unfolds, there will be a series of events in the main marquee, with panellists including ESPNcricinfo's senior correspondent, George Dobell, the sports journalist and contributor to The Cordon Jonathan Wilson and the former Australian allrounder Greg Matthews, discussing cricket and literature and the Ashes.

There will also be an hour of cricket and comedy from cricket obsessives Andy Zaltzman and Mark Steel. At various points over the course of the day, The Nightwatchman, the Authors XI book, and Joseph O'Neill's Netherland.

Matt Thacker is a member of the Words and Wickets organising committee and managing editor of The Nightwatchman