by Mike Brearley

Published by Constable,
An imprint of Little,
Brown Book Group,
Carmelite House,
50 Victoria Embankment,
London EC4Y 0DZ.

Contact: www.littlebrown.co.uk

Pages: 246

MRP: £20


Mike Brearley's latest book, The Spirit of Cricket, is another interesting and thought-provoking look at the important, to me and I would imagine many others, but sometimes hazy issue of the spirit and chivalrous aspects of our summer game and how it can fit in with life in general.

In recent times, a Preamble to The Laws of Cricket was published by M.C.C, the custodians of the game, which acted as such as a reminder of points which were not in or could not be covered by the game's laws.

In this fascinating and erudite book, the former and esteemed England captain looks at and analyses incidents and events which have had an impact on what was essentially seen as breaking the rules of fair play. "Mankading" - the running out of a non-striking batsman for backing up too far before the bowler has delivered the ball - was named after the Indian all-rounder, Vinoo Mankad, who ran out the Australian batsman Bill Brown, and is one such example. The notorious Sandpaper episode which was perpetrated by three Australian cricketers in a Test against South Africa is another. More general aspects, such as sledging, are also considered.

The Preamble is essentially a reminder for decorous behaviour and could be applied to not just players and officials but to spectators alike. Spirit of Cricket is embellished with examples from Brearley's playing days. The very nature of the game and its at times differing sets of circumstances when things do not go to plan for players is compared to other sports and vocations. For example, a wait for a further innings after a low score and thereby possible redemption is compared to errors in other sports where a potential remedy can be found much more quickly.

Towards the end of the book, various people who have either played (or written about) the game professionally or who have been life-long supporters who have worked in other fields were asked to give their views on what the future of the spirit of cricket might hold and the results make for interesting reading.

Referring to life outside cricket, other areas and current topics mentioned include the effects of the coronavirus (which has and continues to have such an effect) and the diversity issue.

At the book's conclusion, Mike Brearley offers a 39-word version of the Preamble. The 2017 Preamble had been condensed from 417 words (in 2000) to 163 but the Brearley version is admirably succinct and gets to the heart of this important subject.

This deep-thinking book in these further changing times is sure to interest many.