Are you the kind of person who feels ever such a little frisson of joy when you learn that the two Tests that started on Boxing Day 2011 produced scores of 333, 282, 240 and 169 (Aus vs Ind) and 338, 279, 241 and 168 (SA vs SL) for differences of five runs, three runs, one run and one run per innings? If so, you’ll like Marc Dawson’s Outside Edge. And if you’re the kind of person who doesn’t feel that little shiver, who has better things to do with their time, who wonders why anyone would be bothered with such trivia – then I don’t know why you’re reading this blog!
Of course, there’s plenty more where that came from – 276 pages, each of them stacked with bullet points that can be read anywhere – but most likely in the lavatory. It’s a formula that’s relentless, but strangely compelling – you say to yourself, just one more page; and then gorge on another dozen.
If overly familiar “My Dream Team”s from less familiar Australian politicians and sports stars can be skimmed over, you dare not do the same with the barrage of factlets. There are so many “You don’t say?” moments, that you dare not miss a belter. The best are, of course, unstastguruable. I learned that Jim Standen (yep, me neither) started the summer of 1964 by picking up an FA Cup Final Winners’ Medal (for West Ham) and finished it with a County Championship (for Worcestershire) bagging 64 wickets at a very respectable 13! Now I’ve read a lot about cricket and football, but I’d never come across that little gem.
There’s plenty of esoteric photographs to break up the text too. How about Harold Larwood delivering Pepsi? Check. Chris Gayle holding a python? Check. MS Dhoni in full academic robes over his one-day kit? Check.
The book is a delight from start to finish that I promised myself I would stretch the better to savour it over a fortnight’s holiday. Naturally, I polished it off in a couple of days and now await the next offering from the prolific Mr Dawson and his army of friendly contributors.