If you want to do something well, in any walk of life, heed the advice of an expert – and now you can read all about how to play cricket in the words of one of Yorkshire and England’s greatest legends, Geoffrey Boycott.
Play Cricket The Right Way: Geoffrey Boycott Great Northern Books, £9.99)
If you want to get off to the right start at cricket you can do no better than pick up some tips from Geoff, but this attractive little hardback is by no means useful only to those stepping on to the field for the first time.
Let’s face it: many a seasoned batsman or bowler at league level may go through his or her career without ever picking up some of the finer points of the game - but it’s never too late to learn, and a greater knowledge of the basic skills can only lead to improvement.
Geoff, as everyone with even a flicker of interest in the summer game knows, was one of Yorkshire and England’s greatest ever batsmen, and when it comes to technique allied to a deep knowledge of cricket he has few equals.
Those of us who are old enough and fortunate enough to have watched him know that he had perfect poise at the crease, and this led to his being able to place the ball with pinpoint accuracy. Whenever he pieced that gap between cover and cover-point or through some other narrow unpoliced area it was achieved with the utmost precision.
Having spent so many thousands of overs batting for county and country makes Geoff ideally qualified, also, to talk with great authority on the subject of bowlers and their subtle arts. Who has been on the receiving end of their great variety of deliveries more often than he?
The specialist art of wicket-keeping is delved into – Geoff says that Alan Knott, of Kent and England, was the best wicket-keeper there has ever been – and there is a detailed section on fielding and catching – two aspects of the game in which all 11 players need to be skilled.
Not all of the book is about playing in matches. Geoff gives valuable advice on buying the correct equipment and keeping it in good condition, and he emphasises the importance of regular practice as well as revealing to young players a form of the game in which no one is left out.
This book, based on Geoff’s Book for Young Cricketers (1976) and Learn Cricket with Geoff Boycott (1994) is no fuddy-duddy textbook. It is beautifully illustrated with colour pictures of some of the world’s current top players going through their motions alongside pen-and-ink type sketches which clearly show how to play every aspect of the game correctly.
The preface is a reproduction of what that great cricket broadcaster and writer John Arlott penned for the original 1976 edition, and in his introduction to the book Geoff lists some of his batting performances which gave him the most pleasure.
The first colour plate shows Geoff determinedly and elegantly striking Greg Chappell through mid-on for the boundary which completed his 100th First Class century in the England v Australia Test match at Headingley in August 1977.
It is a picture full of nostalgia for those of us who were there that day, and my only slight regret is that the book does not include more such examples of the batting maestro in action.