Cricinfo reviews the pick of the pack

Top ten books of the year

Top ten books of the year

Pundits from Pakistan © Picador

In a year in which a firecracking Ashes revived a wider interest in cricket, books about the series were suddenly leaping onto the shelves, and off again too - quicker, in fact, than you could say 'hot potato'. A steady trickle of them gathered momentum and became an absolute deluge - until 13 of them were on offer.

A glut of Ashes books may have swamped the market - but did the critics get bogged down in them? Well, only three made it to our top ten. On top of this were the usual smattering of autobiographies, Wisden and the C&G year book. And there were more really high quality books - we were really spoiled. But we had to narrow them down and the top ten of all the many books offered this year are listed below.

1. Pundits from Pakistan by Rahul Bhattacharaya
A talented book from a wildly gifted writer as he journeys through Pakistan for India's 2003-04 tour and delivers a story that is mostly about cricket, but also covers history, politics and travel. The descriptions of a country not usually high on Western places to visit are convincing enough to book a trip and the portraits and match reports are rare treats. It is an impressive first effort and Bhattacharya also charmed Peter Roebuck. "A beautiful and brilliant work," he says, "the best cricket book I have encountered in many a long year." Peter English

2. Ashes Regained: The Coach's Story by Duncan Fletcher
Simon & Schuster
Duncan Fletcher's Ashes Regained was, by his own admission, a rushed job but it does not show. Of all the ghosted Ashes books it stands, like Freddie Flintoff, head and shoulders above the rest. It's revelatory, insightful, punchy and surprisingly funny. John Stern

3. Ashes 2005 by Gideon Haigh
Aurum Press

Gideon Haigh's Ashes book © Aurum Press

This collection of diaries written for newspapers and Cricinfo during the Ashes series is a breath of fresh air after the stream of blow-by-blow accounts of an admittedly remarkable summer. The joy is that it is the only book that really gives a flavour of what it was like to live through it all. Unrestricted by the needs of conventional reporting, he has the freedom to ponder, observe and comment on incidents both major and minor. It's the vignettes themselves that stand out. Haigh's asides and one-liners are quite superb, and refreshingly he does not limit himself to the games or even just the tour. Martin Williamson

4. Rookies, Rebels and Renaissance: Cricket in the 80s by Mike Coward
Based on the documentary that was made for TV, this is an insightful look at Australia's cricket's post-Packer years, the times of struggle and humiliation that eventually gave way to an improbable World Cup triumph (1987) and the creation of a brave new side that would go on to dominate the game.Dileep Premachandran

5. Adult Book by Malcolm Knox
Bloomsbury Finding a gem of a book that hasn't been marketed to death is rare enough, finding one that centres around cricket is like discovering the Dodo isn't dead after all. Malcolm Knox, who has written on cricket for the Sydney Morning Herald, has weaved sport and pornography to produce a brooding, elegiac novel that dissects the secrets lurking behind the mask of family life. Quite simply, stunning. Daniel Brigham

6. Sometimes I forgot to laugh - Peter Roebuck
Allen & Unwin

7. Ashes Victory - PCA and the England team

8. Slats - The Michael Slater story - Michael Slater, Jeff Apter
Random House

9. Fred Titmus - my life in cricket
John Blake

10. Carr's Dictionary of Extraordinary Cricketers by J L Carr
Aurum Press