20100705

Has Hamilton delivered another Corker?


Already a double winner of the William Hill Sports Book of the Year award, can Duncan Hamilton make it a hat-trick with his latest work?

The Yorkshire-based journalist and author, who scooped the award for his books about Brian Clough and Harold Larwood, has already attracted high praise for the quality of his prose in A Last English Summer, published this month by Quercus.

It impressed Mike Atherton, the former England captain now establishing himself as a wordsmith of note in The Times.

While noting that the view of cricket Hamilton conveys in his journey through an English season is ‘unashamedly romantic and sentimental‘ and ‘not necessarily [one] that many would recognise today’, Atherton enjoyed Hamilton’s turn of phrase so much that his review quotes verbatim from a wonderfully accurate and detailed description of a Dominic Cork appeal.

Cork has the body of a 37-year-old man, but the effervescence of a teenager on a night out. Appealing for a catch or an lbw decision is like a long, wounded squawk, as if someone has hit him on the toes with a builder’s mallet. It’s accompanied with stage theatrics. These begin with the acrobatic, gun-turret swivel, so that Cork directly faces the umpire, and is followed by the pleading pop-eyed gaze and outstretched arms, which turn him into human form of the Angel of the North. If these well-oiled, showboating dramatics prove unsuccessful, he looks away to his right and raises his chin slightly in disgust before slinking away, like a spurned, hurt suitor who can’t believe that his heart has been broken when his case and cause are so justified.

‘Read that to anybody who has played with Cork,’ Atherton observes, ‘and they would name their man in a jiffy’.

A Last English Summer, dedicated to his grandfather in memory of English cricket as his forebears knew it, takes Hamilton on a journey around the familiar landscape of the county grounds but also gives him a taste of village and club cricket from leafy Hambledon in Surrey to Accrington of the Lancashire League.

For more on cricket and more by Duncan Hamilton, visit The Sports Bookshelf Shop.

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