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That Will Be England Gone Reviews

That Will Be England Gone by Michael Henderson

That Will Be England Gone: The Last Summer of Cricket

Michael Henderson

4.14 out of 5

4 reviews

Imprint: Constable
Publisher: Little, Brown Book Group
Publication date: 4 Mar 2021
ISBN: 9781472132871

Lyrical and elegiac, That Will Be England Gone is a deeply personal tribute to cricket, summer and England.

3 stars out of 5
25 Aug 2020

"Henderson is a superior wallower in recollections of innings past"

Henderson is a superior wallower in recollections of innings past, but in less generous mood he gives a fair approximation of any number of county members beginning their exegesis with “in my day…” When the target is cricket, most of the shafts hit home, such as his ennui at an orgy of biffing in one Twenty20 match, which is balanced out by his appreciation of a much more closely fought contest in the same format later in the season. But Henderson cannot see a hobby horse without mounting it. His list of dislikes includes: “Elisions, or rising inflections” in spoken English; chatty cricketers; cricketers playing football or wearing their caps the wrong way round before play (“like getting a tattoo”); Test Match Special commentary since the departure of Christopher Martin-Jenkins (or perhaps John Arlott); the new version of the television documentary Civilisation[s]; the new Church of England liturgy; the new artistic director of the Globe Theatre (“being a woman didn’t hurt”); the new presenters on BBC Radios 3 and 2 – a pattern can be discerned.


4 stars out of 5
9 May 2020

"Henderson’s book is not all doom-saying. Nor is it pure nostalgia"

But in an age when so much is dumbed down, it’s a welcome change. Not that all the fancy stuff gets in the way of the narrative. On the contrary, it’s extremely readable. Henderson’s curmudgeonly persona is often amusing, as he takes aim at the ‘craft ale’ bar at Trent Bridge (his inverted commas) and excoriates John Lennon for posing as a working-class hero. And That Will be England Gone is part memoir, part sports book, part essay. In tone it’s a strange thing: a level-headed lament. Given that this may be a summer without leather and willow, and that coughing has become taboo, Henderson’s book provides a much-needed literary-cricketing alternative: a beautiful clearing of the throat.

5 stars out of 5
Patrick Kidd
29 Apr 2020

"a love letter to the sound of leather on willow"

I may have given the impression that this is the work of a curmudgeon. Change and decay in all around I see, and all that. But it really isn’t, not at all. Henderson may like a grumble, but it comes from a good place. This book is an extended love letter, a beautifully written one, to a world that he is desperate to keep alive for others to discover and share. Not just his love of cricket, either, but of poetry and classical music and fine cinema. TS Eliot and GK Chesterton are as important a part of his batting order as ER Dexter or DCS Compton; Powell and Pressburger fire him like Trueman and Statham. And he gushes as much about Barbirolli as Botham. He fears that the young will not miss all this when it is gone because they were never taught to love it in the first place.

4 stars out of 5
26 Apr 2020

"The argument of the book is kept spinning by passionate enthusiasm, by the forensic accumulation of evidence and by the author’s occasional anger"

The best raconteurs have a chip of ice in their conviviality. One has the impression that while many of the stories here were first heard by the author in a bar quite late at night, he took the trouble to write them down when he got back to his room. There is a bracing accuracy, a fact-checking diligence, that makes the book more than opinion and anecdote. For this reason, you can forgive him some autobiography and several digressions — on Vienna, for instance, or Ken Dodd, and quite a few on the jazz he listens to in the car as he drives from one county to the next.