Subtitled “A Curious Cricket Compendium”, “Pedalo” reflects on the postmodern, global, IPLed-up cricket of 2010 from the perspective of 1896 – a time of late Victorian self-improvement, the British Empire and uncomplicated masculinity. Now some may say that such is pretty much Sir Ian Botham’s territory and there’s more than enough of him to go round, but this book is, unlike the Knight, small, humorous and rather a beautiful thing with which to spend time.
With some of the nostalgia of Peter Tinniswood‘s The Brigadier and the arching eyebrow familiar to readers of his regular column in The Wisden Cricketer, Alan Tyers reports on such matters as the Twenty and Twenty Match between Assam Untouchables and Baluchistan Opium Exporters – Assam 46-0 (20 overs) won by six runs – and of Ashes heroes like Mr Arbuthnot Strauss who “Has drawn warm praise for his expansive drives, both through the off-side and those approaching the front entrance of his family seat”. The affectionate satire in the prose is beautifully complemented by Beach’s lithographically styled drawings playing, dare I say, Phiz to Tyers’ Dickens.
Mention Dickens, and thoughts turn to Christmas. This book would make a handy, indeed hand-sized, stocking-filler for the cricket fan with the added advantage of your being able to “just borrow it to have a look” while the lucky recipient sleeps off the Christmas pudding and armagnacs in front of The Wizard of Oz (not that one). There’s plenty of quiet chortles within its Wisdenesquely yellow dustjacket which will provide just the right warm-up to getting the gameface on for play to be called at the MCG at 11.30pm GMT.
The Tooting Trumpet, whom you can often find at Testmatchsofa.com and on Twitter at @garynaylor999 and @Fakeadil.