by Bill Ribbans and Mark Saggers

Published by:
Pitch Publishing,
9 Donnington Park, 85 Birdham Road,
Chichester, West Sussex PO20 7AJ

Contact: www.pitchpublishing.co.uk, info@pitchpublishing.co.uk

Pages: 432

MRP: £14.99

Copies can be purchased from https://www.pitchpublishing.co.uk/shop/plague-all-our-sports

A while back Bill Ribbans, an orthopaedic surgeon who treated injuries suffered by sportspeople, produced an excellent book on his many years of experience called Knife in the Fast Lane. I remember enjoying it immensely which may be strange given my tendencies towards hypochondria but, more importantly, learnt a lot about Bill's profession. I was therefore delighted to read the latest book Bill has written, this time in collaboration with the experienced broadcaster Mark Saggers, about the chaos which the coronavirus caused to sport.

We will all doubtless have memories of those times which saw the country locked down on numerous occasions and the strange and sad times associated with this passage. Many people will have different views on the subject, and many will not have experienced anything similar in their lifetimes. A Plague on all our Sports is therefore another fascinating book although, by the virus's very nature, not all of it makes for happy reading.

In early 2020, I celebrated receiving Full Membership of M.C.C. after the not-unusual waiting period of around twenty-two years. I saw not one ball bowled at Lord's. I am aware, though, that my position was trivial in relation to others. Bill and Mark's book covers any number of sports affected and it was interesting reading how the various governing bodies coped with the situation thrust upon them and the ideas which they came up with in their valiant attempts to keep their sports going. It may seem almost trite to keep sport going when hundreds of lives were lost but, in case we are unaware, sport is big business and its need to continue was paramount to its survival. People marooned in their houses would likely be grateful for the opportunity to watch some form of sport even if it did feel and was different to what was usually available.

Both authors give in some detail yet concisely - the book is 432 pages long - how each sport coped, and the obviously tough restrictions placed upon them. They also mention some of the ingenious methods thought up by some of sport's brightest minds and the charitable exploits of many sportspeople which is always nice to hear. We often read about injuries sustained by sportspeople but Bill and Mark explain excellently how elite sportspeople train and which, to me, added a completely new interpretation of top-flight sport.

Think of the participants and the entourage around them being, in some sports, locked up in secure establishments before, during and after an important event and the effect of one positive test. Cricket and Formula 1 might be my sports of interest and I remember admiring West Indies and Pakistan for touring during the first year of the pandemic. Neither was sport back to normal in 2021 and, whatever views people may hold about the conclusion of the 2021 Formula 1 season, we were lucky to have enjoyed an essentially full season.

Naturally, there were transgressions along the way, a good few of which are mentioned. Some ideas on how to create an atmosphere in empty stadia for television audiences are enjoyable even if not all could be deemed completely successful. In conclusion, both Bill and Mark have given the reader a reminder of the difficulties faced by players and administrators alike in keeping sport going in the face of huge restrictions during those odd times starting almost four years ago.

Bill recalls, via his work with Northamptonshire C.C.C, some of the measures that county had to adopt and his role in it, modestly put. It should leave no-one unaware of the colossal amount of work which went on behind the scenes and the impact it must have had on the players, support staff and administrators. I believe that we should be tremendously grateful to all those who worked so hard.

A medical section at the end is also very interesting and whilst it has not cured my hypochondria, I must say that A Plague on all our Sports has been quite an eye-opener and a very important book on the subject of Covid-19. I would like to thank Bill, Mark and Pitch Publishing for making the subject and thereby book possible and wish them every success with it.