SB Tang’s essay on Gideon Haigh (from the Guardian)

Reasonable from SB Tang?

Over the top?

What’s your view of Gideon Haigh’s writing?

[Check out the discussion which follows the piece – but would love to get another discussion happening here on the Almanac site]


  1. I am presently working my way through two of his books, complete contrasts. One is a collection of his cricket pieces, Uncertain Corridors, the other a history of workplaces called The Office. People often forget he was first a business journo and his book on James Hardie is excellent.

    I liked the Cricket War but agree that it woudl be interesting to see it re-written, or even written now, as it shows a good writer early in his career. It is excellent though and for someone reasonably young when it happened, it opened my eyes to what went on.

    Haigh rightly replies to Tang that On Warne was not a bio, more a series of essays on parts of his life, so it wasn’t going to be a Paul Barry type book, nor a complete summary of his career. It looked at an enigmatic figure than changed cricket and was unique and flawed in equal parts. I see where Tang is coming from on various ommissions and Haigh’s defence of him and I admire Haigh coming back saying that of course he liked Warne.

    I think Haigh is excellent, but I can see that there can be some genuflecting at his writing that I am sure the man himself finds awkward or embarassing. I do agree that his obssevrations on the game are insightful and as an amateur writer can make you want to chuck it in. I like the fact that he has embraced T20 or at least been open to the game, not dismissive as a fad or brainless.

    I am sure he has few admirers amongts the ICC, or BCCI, probably indications again he is doing something right


  2. Gideon Haigh is the reason that I contribute to The Footy Almanac. Blame him.

    If I can become one tenth of the writer he is, then I haven’t completely wasted my time on this earth.

    The comprehensive, nay – painstaking research that Gideon employs and ultimately informs his (for mine anyway) engaging prose is something sorely missing from the vast majority of opinion and non-fiction writers in contemporary journalism and publishing. Or put it this way, for every one Gideon Haigh, we have to endure 1,000’s of Bolts, O’Briens, (R) Wilsons, Panahis and Ackermanns – a cadre I unfortunately find myself in at times in terms of a lack of researching and formulating balanced argument, opinion or knowledge.

    Tang’s piece is fine with me. It demonstrates the old saying; opinions are like ars-holes. Everyone’s got one.

  3. Meeting GH in the flesh at the last Perth Writers Festival, I was struck by the huge head and intellect on top of a sparrow-like body. He reminded me of the Mekon in the old Dan Dare/Eagle comic strips – who was a huge brain/head floating around on a surfboard in space.
    I bought my (autographed) copy of ‘On Warne’ at the time more as my fee for hearing his engaging intellect on display for an hour. He was talking about “The Office’ along with a couple of worthy academic writers who engendered a profound sense of self-absorption and narcolepsy. I woke up whenever Gideon spoke or got the subject changed to something remotely interesting.
    I had always found Warne fascinating as a cricketer and supremely boring as a person, so I was unsure what I would find in the book. GH’s ability to constantly drag in different perspectives and angles on overtrodden ground made it un-putdownable for me.
    Look at GH’s bibliography, website and the brilliant ‘Cuts and Glances’ blog and I get the overwhelming sense of the breadth of his interests and knowledge. I am sure that being a non-drinker helps, but I couldn’t do half of his stuff in 10 abstinent lifetimes.
    Mekon-like in his capacity and focus.
    Above all I love that Gideon makes his knowledge and insights ACCESSIBLE. I love the flow, rhythms and unexpected references in the writing.
    If Sinatra could sing the phone book and make it engaging, then Gideon could write it.
    In part I’m sure its not having the ‘benefits’ of a tertiary education to limit his style or perspective. Like Paul Keating, Gideon is an engaging autodidact whether you like his views or not.
    As I wrote a while back ; “Gideon Haigh Is the thinking man’s John Harms. John Harms is the drinking man’s Gideon Haigh. ” (I hope that’s praise).

  4. 3Gq1pQvvJKItoa4zBalC-wn69Z7bqDcfW3FzIyAsWXs. says

    A well argued and serious review.

    For the Warne book to be written in 31 days is extraordinary, even though it didn’t require any external input.

    Reminds me of my time long ago in the press box at a Test somewhere in England, when one of the journos was proudly sprinkling his latest book. “How long did it take you to write?” , asked one normally acid-tongued colleague.

    “Oh, about a fortnight”, came the response, rather quickly.

    “As long as that?”, came the rebuttal, even quicker.

  5. matt watson says

    Didn’t know a thing about Gideon Haigh before I read The Cricket War about ten years ago. I loved it.
    It is one of those books I buy whenever I see it, to give to mates.
    When I found out that Haigh was 26 when he wrote it, and it was rejected by 11 publishers, I was amazed.
    It remains one of the best cricket books I’ve read.
    He is an excellent writer. His output is exceptional.
    I’d love to see him write about boxing.

  6. matt watson says

    By the way, I thought the Guardian piece was good.

  7. Mark 'Swish' Schwerdt says

    I’ve got an original copy of The Cricket War – amazing to think that this was his first book.

    Consquently, I’ve only just Googled the 2007 reprint

    (ironic considering this )

    which has a preface I was not previously aware of, with some newer perspectives (Allen Stanford anyone?)

  8. Luke Reynolds says

    I love reading G.Haigh as much as I loved watching VVS Laxman bat. A bloody lot. Have got and have read all off his cricket books, havent read any of his other stuff.
    On Warne is just a superb read. The Vincibles and Mystery Spinner-The Story of Jack Iverson are my favourites.

  9. Barry Nicholls says

    This article is def worth a read. I still like The Cricket War a great deal. To me it holds up. On Warne wasn’t my favourite Haigh book but so what it’s still a good bit of work.

  10. Earl O'Neill says

    I bought ‘Summer Game’ for Dad for Christmas one year. I knew Dad would enjoy it and I wanted to read it too. There are cricket writers I read and enjoy but Gideon Haigh is the only one I study.

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