Curious Observations: The National Game of England

Neville Cardus combined the roles of music critic and cricket writer on the then Manchester Guardian (and others) for fifty years. Country Life’s appreciation of the pleasures of his prose is still shared by many a cricket lover today

If any institution was entirely English it is cricket, and no one realised this with greater zest than does Mr Neville Cardus. When we read him we have in the very marrow of our bones not only the feeling of cricket but of England and an English summer. Even old Nyren himself could hardly make us breathe more genuinely the English airs of that ‘noble green’ of Broad-halfpenny and of the noble ale that was drunk there. Mr. Cardus is equally at home on a southern county cricket field dozing tranquilly in the sun, with the gentle sounds of hay-making in the distance, or among the factory chimneys that look down on the grounds of his own Lancashire.

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He combines two qualifications which are rare among writers on games, or, indeed, on any other subject. He has the technical knowledge not merely of the watcher of many matches, but of one who was a bowler himself; he can write learnedly enough, when he has a mind to it, of the inswinger and the two-eyed stance. He has, further, something of the vision and emotions of a poet and is not afraid of giving them a free reign. The more staid of his readers may think that it is too free, and it may be that he is now and again too lyrical and loses himself a little in his own exuberance, but he feels the excitement and romance of this game so intensely that he can make us come very near to tears, and that is a great gift.

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