The Great Romantic: Cricket & the Golden Age of Neville Cardus


As a kid growing up in the late 50s, early 60s I loved listening to broadcasts of The Ashes from England via the ABC.


Dad would set up the old bakelite radio with its special connection, plugging it into the light socket hanging from the roof of my bedroom, the sleepout  on the back porch.  Unfortunately, there’d be no light as a result so dad usually brought a candle with him when he joined me to listen to the cricket. We’d be stretched out on my single bed, father and son, listening to the dulcet tones of John Arlott as the candlelight flickered on the walls. I loved Arlott’s slow melodic Hampshire drawl, his descriptions painting so many wonderful images of Merry England, and of course the cricket for me to envisage. I loved it!


Those late night experiences allowed me to develop a deep love and interest in cricket, particularly for the writers and commentators of the game.  Neville Cardus, EW Swanton, CLR James and others soon became household names for me.  I quickly came to appreciate their great skills, their knowledge and their use of words to convey the magic of cricket to me. I couldn’t get enough of it  as I sourced and devoured more and more cricket books  from my local library. As my birthday and Christmas both occurred during the cricket season was an added bonus for me, usually meaning a cricket book or two. I’d be in my element as I turned the pages.


Recently I read   The Great Romantic: Cricket and the Golden Age of Neville Cardus  by Duncan Hamilton and it’s a ripper read, bringing back to me many memories of those late nights listening to the cricket and reminding me why I love the game of cricket. I thoroughly enjoyed this fantastic book but I’m not confident  of ensuring it  the full justice in a book review it so richly deserves so I’m leaving that to others who can express the brilliance of this book far better than me. I recommend you check out the following.


Firstly, a terrific review of the book is in The Guardian. Click on the link to read it.


And secondly, you can read an extract from the book HERE 


Click here  for a cricket story I wrote some time ago that you may enjoy.


Good reading Almanackers!


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About Colin Ritchie

Retired teacher who enjoys following the Bombers, listening to music especially Bob Dylan, reading, and swimming.


  1. Peter Fuller says

    Thanks Col for alerting us to this book. I recall Cardus responding to the criticism that he was careless with accuracy in the quotes he attributed to cricketers. He said something to the effect that he provided the words they would (should) have used had they had his facility with language.

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