by Vic Marks

Published by Allen & Unwin,
c/o Atlantic Books,
Ormond House, 26-27 Boswell Street,
London WC1N 3JZ

Pages: 282

MRP: £16.99


Vic Marks, formerly of The Guardian and The Observer and now happily semi-retired, has kept himself busy with his latest book, an amusing and witty account of cricket in his day and since. It is sure to please.

As a former and, I like to think, model pupil of Vic's, I see much in the book of my former teacher and the many who listen to his sage observations on Test Match Special (which he is still part of) will recognise the continuing and erudite summariser through these pages. One can tell that he cares greatly about the game, his wisdom and ideas coming over in his familiar style.

If, like me, readers start the book on the back cover and read about Victor's take on his own batting, they may look at the artist's impression of the batsman on the front cover and wonder if it is our esteemed author in full flow with the bat. Or has the ball been hit a bit too straight?

Marks and The Hundred are words which seem to be synonymous with each other, but fear not. After much harrumphing about the upcoming event, there may be a tendency to hide under the covers if one is reading the book at bedtime but, as he mentions, the subject is out of the way early on in the book. Well, other than a later quip about one of the event's sponsors' products: "junk food for junk cricket"... I do not expect to bump into Vic at one such match, partly as I shall not be there.

I always find myself a little disappointed that Vic seems self-deprecating of his talents as a cricketer. He was - is - a Somerset legend; a canny and very accurate bowler; interesting, yet decent batsman, and someone good enough to represent England on forty occasions. He excelled with the bat on England's tour to Pakistan in 1983/84, and had a habit of picking up Man-of-the-Match awards at domestic finals whilst surrounded by team-mates of the calibre of Botham, Richards and Garner. Whether as a cricketer, writer or summariser/commentator, he fully deserves his popularity and Late Cuts will, I am sure, be well received.

In the Bible, Mark's Gospel makes use of the word immediately often. In Marks's Musings, I am delighted to see that the word seldom still crops up reasonably regularly (although, I suspect, less often than in his excellent Original Spin). Vic touches upon a wide range of subjects, all absorbing in their own way and written in his usual gracious style. It seems that being the twelfth man is a job best avoided, and I am impressed that his book collection is not arranged alphabetically but cunningly, putting those side by side who did not necessarily get on terribly well together. Food is another eye-opener of a subject. Times have changed, and I am happy to admit that I understood what was piled in front of cricketers in the 1970s but what the nutritionists have conjured up nowadays left me wondering what on earth turns up on plates. Well, there are other areas mentioned which would leave me baffled also.

All the chapters (which include subjects including selections, captaincy, crowds and failure) all bring in some favourite and well-known quotes as well as some lesser-known ones and, as can be expected, Late Cuts is greatly entertaining. Victor has kept himself busy writing this during lockdown and now that he is free from the ordeals of meeting journalistic deadlines, let us hope that he puts pen to paper again soon. Well done once again, Victor.