Cricket is again represented in the final shortlist of 6 books for the William Hill Sports Book of the year and again it’s a book by Duncan Hamilton – A Last English Summer.
Hamilton has a remarkable recent record with this award, winning it twice in the last three years. In 2007 he won with Provided You Don’t Kiss Me, about the late Brian Clough and in 2009 he won with his biography Harold Larwood.
This years entry is A Last English Summer. This is Hamilton following and charting his experience of the county cricket circuit in 2009, in the expectation that this will be the last year of cricket as we know it in England before Twenty20 takes over. How wrong he was!!
Hamilton is up against 5 other Sports Books for the award.
Open by Andre Agassi, which just sounds like Agassi telling us all about what a hard life he had on the tennis circuit and about how he avoided a drugs ban. Anyone who has to announce that he got away with the ban by lieing just to try and sell more copies of his book dosen’t deserve the publicity to me.
Personally, I wouldn’t wipe my hole with the paperback version, as I wouldn’t want to offend my arse. If this books wins, then it should go up on the ‘Alternative Lord’s Honours Board’ alongside Shane Watson’s tainted fivefor.
Trautmann’s Journey by Catrine Clay. This sounds like a great book, it charts Bert Trautmann’s story from Hitler Youth to becoming arguably the most famous ever FA Cup goalkeeper. When you think about how a German would probably have been received in this country at the time, it makes his story all the more remarkable. He was a man who obviously wasn’t afraid to cross divides to achieve things.
Blood Knots by Luke Jennings. With the greatest of respect to Luke Jennings, I am not going to try to comment on this book as apparently it is about angling, which I know nothing about.
Beware of the Dog by Brian Moore. This is Moore’s life story, he tells about how he had a troubled childhood and that how underneath it all, he is not the assured figure that he comes across as.
Moore is one of those people who I could listen too all day, he never beats around the bush and always tells it as he sees it. He is also a highly intelligent man, he is a solicitor by trade and is also a wine expert.
Bounce by Matthew Syed. Syed is a former British Number 1 in Table Tennis, turned journalist. He recognised that all the top Table Tennis players all came from the same area as him, Syed thought this was a bit more than just a coincidence.
As a result of this, he came to the conclusion that he wasn’t born with a God given talent, that it was down to the fact that they all lived near the top Table Tennis coach in the country. He has since done research into what it takes to become a top sports performer and in this book he explains how he has come to the conclusion that you need 10,000 hours of practise – and probably to be lucky enough to live near the top coach in your given field.
One book that didn’t make the shortlist, but was on the longlist is Henry Olonga’s, Blood Sweat and Treason. I was disappointed to see Olonga miss out, if I were to find the time to read any of these books it would probably be this one.
Olonga is a very articulate man and I have listened to him talk a lot on TV and Radio about more than just cricket, if this book is half as interesting as Olonga himself is, then it should be some read.
The book apparently goes into great detail about the infamous ‘black arm band’, death of democracy in our country incident and how by a twist of fate, Olonga managed to escape Mugabe’s secret police, which ultimately must have saved his life.
It sounds just a bit more interesting than reading about the hard life of a drugs taker forced to play tennis and receive all the trapings that go with it. Who the hell makes these decisions?