New Statesman – English cricket has always wallowed in nostalgia.


  • By contrast, the top BBC cricket commentators of my childhood and early adulthood, John Arlott and EW Swanton, have a full-length biography each.
  • The differences between Arlott and Swanton – neither much liked the other – are often seen as embodying the class divisions that were once integral to English cricket.
  • Arlott, seven years younger, came from a working-class background, went to a state grammar school, liked to mix with the professional players (he became president of their union), and stood twice for parliament as a Liberal.
  • But Swanton would continue to recall Patsy Hendren or Jack Hobbs batting in the 1930s and Arlott obscure county grounds at Horsham or Ebbw Vale where he could “hear the players talking to each other”.
  • Arlott, Swanton and the Soul of English Cricket Stephen Fay and David KynastonBloomsbury, 384pp, £20

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