Christopher Lee: Howzat Book Review

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It happens to be a rather appropriate time to be reviewing Christopher Lee’s take on World Series Cricket (Supertests and all), what with the addition to the cricket calendar of pink ball day/night County Championship matches that were rolled out for the first time this week.

Lee actually wrote the screenplay for the TV drama of this book with the writing of the book coming post TV production. It’s an insightful read with a clear Ozzie vibe. The focus is on WSC’s chief instigator Kerry Packer, his challenging of the establishment and the changes that WSC cricket brought. It’s not all about Packer though. John Cornell, described by Gideon Haigh as ‘a floating creative catalyst’ is among the others that ultimately changed the way we see cricket today, literally given what they did regards camerawork. The establishment boys didn’t like the changes. Some still don’t. Reading about the pink ball county matches this week I came across one journalist trying to convince the reader that it’s not the weather that’s been at fault but that there’s simply no hunger for late night pink ball affairs. Actually there is. Even if the crowds were no better than usual, if the attendees were different people to the norm then that’s great. Cricket is for all. If some fans can attend day games and some night games then let’s have both. Just because something is new and different doesn’t mean that people need be scared by… CHANGE! Let’s not forget that a lot of people won’t have known about the different schedule for this week’s matches but them actually happening will have caught some people’s attention. Obviously it’s still four-day (First Class) cricket so unlike one-day (List A) games or T20 matches, fans won’t necessarily get a result but let’s not throw the idea in the bin yet. Let’s welcome pink ball day/night games to the County Championship next year with open arms.

Forgive me, I digress but the parallels with cricket today (day/night matches, T20 leagues, international restructure, ‘The Big Three’, TV rights etc) with what was occurring in the 1970s are clear for everybody to see.

Crocodile Dundee even gets a few mentions in Lee’s literature and having seen the Howzat TV drama sometime ago, before I was as obsessed with the sport of bat ‘n’ ball as I am now, I’m keen to view it again. From what I can recall the book very precisely follows the same path as the TV production.

Christopher Lee’s Howzat is essential reading for any cricket geek and now is an acutely appropriate time to read it.

Lee’s Howzat finishes undefeated on…

91 not out

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