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Cricket - Celebrating the Modern Game Around the World<BR>by Philip Brown and Lawrence Booth

A review of Cricket - Celebrating the Modern Game Around the World by Philip Brown and Lawrence Booth

Edward Craig
Chronicle of change

There is something satisfying about a big, heavy book that makes a hefty thump as you drop it on a coffee table. Solid hardback, thick, glossy paper, rich colours - who said judging a book by its cover was a bad thing? But when the contents of the tome match the appearance, it is doubly satisfying.
This is a celebration of all things cricket over the last 25 years. From Ian Botham's foreword onwards it is and unremitting and shamelessly positive look at the sport. Botham's last paragraph sums this up: "We should be in for a cracking summer. I hope this book reminds you that we've been lucky enough to have had a few over the last couple of decades too."
And so, through Lawrence Booth's carefully chosen words, illustrating the key moments or highlighting the games most colourful and influential players, this optimistic journal is a comprehensive guide to the past quarter century.
The canvas is broad, offering an overview rather than minute detail. But this is what such a book demands; there is no need for intricate technical analysis when the photographs are saying so much more. Booth describes the 1980s as the decade of allrounders, the 1990s as the decade of new-ball partnerships and the 2000s as the era of the batsmen. The intricacies are not important. This book is about wide sweeps and general conclusions. As a chronicle of change - and the last 25 years has seen huge change - this is a superb record. We have seen the rebirth of Test cricket, a vast increase of money in the game and significant technological advances that we tend to take for granted. Booth and picture editor Philip Brown, one of the most talented cricket photographers, constantly celebrate progress in the last quarter century while acknowledging the romance of the past.
It is this 25-year factor that is the one drawback to an otherwise impressive publication. NatWest has commissioned and sponsored the work in celebration of their involvement with cricket over the last 25 years, a laudable and welcome support. But the sponsor-speak and shameless plugs do grate and NatWest's editorial influence dulls the gloss. Of course sponsors demand their pound of flesh but at times the lack of dignity is a lack of taste.

Edward Craig is deputy editor of The Wisden Cricketer