Book Review: Lord’s: Cathedral of Cricket

There is a plethora of books about MCC and Lord’s. You cannot have one without the other. Tony Lewis’sDouble Century marked the bi-centenary. Tim Rice’s Treasures of Lord’s concentrated on the collection of memorabilia. So the task for a reviewer of Stephen Green’s book is simple. Does it add value and is it satisfying in its own right? To both these questions, a resounding yes. Now that Jim Swanton is gone, Mr Green probably knows more about the history of cricket than anyone alive, with the possible exception of John Woodcock.

For eight happy years I chaired the MCC arts and library sub-committee, which is responsible for the finest cricket collection in the world, while Mr Green was curator and librarian. What a team we had. An amateur myself, I tried to referee a group including Swanton, Woodcock, Rice, the present chairman of Sotheby’s, the keeper of the Queen’s pictures, the keeper of medieval antiquities at the British Museum, and other such luminaries.

Behind us hovered always the benign presence of Mr Green’s scholarship and enthusiasm. Soup-stained his ancient tweed suit might occasionally be, unkempt his locks, his office the despair of my excessive tidiness, but no cricketing query was too marginal for him, no detail of Fred Snooks’s dismissal in some long-forgotten contest of the 1920s failed to elicit a thoughtful and courteous response.

He retired from Lord’s this autumn, leaving the museum and library in better shape than ever. Nobody who loves the game, who has children or friends or grandchildren who might be tempted, should fail to visit it this summer, preferably clutching a copy of this book.

Lord’s is a splendid monument to Mr Green, well written, carrying its scholarship lightly, and he has been elegantly served by his publishers. I had never heard of Tempus, who I see publish in Stroud, but they have worked to a high standard, reproducing some of the most beautiful images from Lord’s in both colour and sepia. This is indeed a book for all seasons.