An insightful examination of modern cricket by a historic team made up of cricket-obsessed writers.
Cricket has perhaps held more writers in its thrall than any other sport: many excellent books have been written about it, and many great authors have played it. The Authors Cricket Club used to play regularly against teams made up of Publishers and Actors. They last played in 1912, and include among their alumni such greats as PG Wodehouse, who played six times for them at Lord's, Arthur Conan Doyle and JM Barrie, whose own team the Allahakbarries is perhaps the most famous example of a literary team in history. A hundred years on from their last match, a team of modern-day authors has been assembled to continue this fine literary and sporting tradition in a nationwide tour in search of the perfect day's cricket. The Authors XI is the story of their season.
Writers have long sought to pin down what is so special about this wonderful game, and the Authors XI are set to join them. Over the course of a summer they played over a dozen matches, each one carefully chosen for capturing an aspect of cricket, in some of England's most spectacular and historic grounds, against a wide range of opponents. In the book, each player contributes a chapter about one of their fixtures, using a match report as a starting point for an essay on cricket and its appeal, both historically and today.
The team includes Alex Preston, who once worked as a trader in the City and writes a chapter on the role of money in the game as the team play a side of bankers, James Holland, a historian who contributes a chapter looking at the spirit of cricket as the authors take on Tim Rice's Heartaches on a ground that James built himself, and Downton Abbey and The Line of Beauty actor Dan Stevens, who writes about actors, showmanship and the Hollywood Cricket Club. Further chapters from other team members examine issues such as history, class and empire.
About the Author
The Authors were just one of several literary cricket teams around at the beginning of the twentieth century - famously, JM Barrie had his Allahakbarries and PG Wodehouse, AA Milne and Punch all had their own elevens. But the Authors were the only team made up entirely of writers and they would play at Lord's each year, against the Publishers and Actors. Arthur Conan Doyle and Wodehouse often opened the batting. Conan Doyle also captained the side, while EW Hornung (creator of Raffles) was the brains behind it. The Authors played their last match in 1912, losing to the Publishers.
A century on, the Authors will play again, having been revived by Charlie Campbell and Nicholas Hogg. The new-look side includes brothers Tom and James Holland, William Fiennes and Alex Preston, professional-cricketer-turned-author Ed Smith and historians Matthew Parker and Thomas Penn. Their 2012 season includes the traditional fixture against the Actors at Lord's, as well as ones against the Publishers, the Lords and Commons CC and many more. Planning has begun for 2013 and beyond