Now, rather like your perfect cricket tea, comes Marcus Berkmann’s fabulous book: well, not so much a book, more an Aladdin’s cave of trivia, quizzes, Test match reports and some of the best writing about cricket and cricketers you will find (and it is a very crowded field: cricket writers know their stuff).
Maybe, more fittingly, it’s like your biggest and most lavishly appointed cricket coffin, full of the kit you have always wanted and stuff you never knew you had.
Marcus Berkmann is a journalist, quiz-setter and cricket nut who brings the dogged romanticism of the village green to this hugely enjoyable smorgasbord of gossip, anecdote and celebration of the sport’s legends. Cricket is a process in which chivalry and cruelty coexist, where the individual is more exposed to pain and glory than in any other game, yet only the team can win. One thinks of that photograph of Andrew Flintoff comforting a fallen Brett Lee at the end of one of the greatest test matches of all time at Edgbaston in 2005. Or the Lancastrian Eddie Paynter being pulled out of hospital in Brisbane to shore up the crumbling England innings in 1932. He was not well enough to field, but after a night in hospital returned to hit the winning runs by striking Stan McCabe for six.... There are stories here that make you laugh, some that bring a tear to the eye, a few you think you can top and many you can’t wait to share. What more could a “miscellany” possibly do?
the yellow monolith of Wisden Cricketers’ Almanack stands alone as the great game’s bible. With his Cricketing Miscellany, Berkmann has generously provided us with the apocrypha.
As such, the book is filled with stories of often dubious credibility. Having tried in vain to verify every tale, Berkmann confesses that he still doesn’t believe some of them, but they were “too good to be left out”. While their veracity is variable, their entertainment value is consistently high.