England's Summer of Cricket 2008 January 24, 2009

Five go off in a highlights package

So what if England didn't win too much last summer? The video chronicle makes for compelling viewing



Any DVD called England's Summer of Cricket 2008 should be a seminal record of the game's shifting sands: helicopters landing at Lord's, players auctioned for millions of dollars, and bitter power struggles between governing bodies.

The problem is it has to contain the cricket. It can be only as good as the material it has to chose from - and bore draws at Lord's, an awful lot of rain and England losing do not help. There were good games and great moments. The trouble is that England were on the wrong end when it mattered.

Despite this the DVD is compulsive viewing. And that is because it is put together by Sunset and Vine, the company that produced Channel 4's coverage and still does Five's daily highlights. This is essentially Five's highlights of all the internationals edited and slung together.

Mark Nicholas gushes his way through the summer, Geoff Boycott is brutal and accurate, and Simon Hughes is fantastic. As The Analyst on Channel 4, Hughes offered insight that Sky fails to match.

Additional details knit it together well. The news-round before each Test explains what happened off the pitch: Stanford's millions, Pattinson's selection, Vaughan's resignation. As a refresher it is priceless.

How good was England's comeback at Old Trafford against New Zealand? How poorly did Ryan Sidebottom bowl (the end-of-day summaries constantly refer to him as "off-colour")? How good was Graeme Smith's knock at Edgbaston? Who played the innings of the summer? (Answer: Ross Taylor, 154 at Old Trafford - the flair of Lara, the technique of Tendulkar.)

You might not want to see Daniel Flynn's tooth slowly dislodged from his mouth but then the same goes for much of England's summer.

England's Summer of Cricket 2008
2 Entertain, 682 min, £29.99


Edward Craig is deputy editor of the Wisden Cricketer. This review was first published in the January 2009 issue of the magazine. Subscribe here