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One Long and Beautiful Summer, By Duncan Hamilton

Release date: 11th July, 2020
Publisher: Riverrun

List Price: £12.27
Our Price: £14.99
You Save: £-2.72 (-22%)
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Towards the end of last year, I was fortunate enough to visit the venerable WACA cricket ground in Perth, Australia.

It was mid-afternoon and the stadium was closed, but after explaining to a friendly security man how far we had travelled, he admitted my wife and I on condition that we didn’t venture onto the square.

We wandered down as far as the boundary rope and, as we looked across a surprisingly compact arena, it was possible to imagine cricket’s idiosyncratic sounds rising from the now empty stands. Apart from willow on leather, you could hear the partisan home crowd giving English fielders dog’s abuse and was that Ritchie Benaud’s objective commentary wafting across the airwaves?

It was wonderfully still, a characteristic amplified by Perth’s lazy heat and reading Duncan Hamilton’s outstanding One Long and Beautiful Summer, a short elegy for red ball cricket, I was reminded how enjoyable he finds cricket’s pre-match silence. Hamilton relishes preparing for a game, packing his radio, notebook, binoculars and newspaper, insisting on arriving “so early that a stillness is in the air”. It’s one of many evocative lines the reader will stumble across in this hugely enjoyable companion to Hamilton’s A Last English Summer published more than a decade ago.

Hamilton, whose books have won the sports book of the year accolade on three occasions (he could have a fourth with his latest effort) bears comparison with Neville Cardus, the writer who asserted that “there can be no summer in this land without cricket,” a line which effectively inspired Hamilton to plan the matches he would see throughout 2019.

Though not anticipating a worldwide pandemic, Hamilton’s tome is prescient – he believed that cricket could change beyond recognition once The Hundred was foisted upon us.

A cricketing traditionalist (he saw his first Championship match in 1970), Hamilton loves cricket so much he joins 73 others to watch a ridiculously fast Jofra Archer playing for Sussex second XI against Gloucestershire. He admires Ben Stokes’s performance at Headingley and visits the county ground at Hove in addition to Welbeck Colliery CC to see Nottinghamshire play Hampshire at the wonderfully named Sookholme,

Drawing inspiration from JB Priestly, Hamilton writes: “you know a man best by the sort of Utopia in which he desires to live. My Utopia – on the cricket field at least – is watching a leg spinner.”

Clearly not a man to be hurried, he scorns ‘modernity’ which, he assets, “comes at you at such a fast lick. You’re in the day after tomorrow almost before you realise yesterday has gone.”

If One Long and Beautiful Summer doesn’t win sports book of the year, it’ll be an absolute joy reading the one that does.

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