Simon Hughes, one of the pillars of Channel 4′s much-acclaimed test match commentary, wrote Jargonbusting to explain cricket to an audience unfamiliar with its complexities and odd vernacular. He’s very well qualified to do so: he had a long and moderately distinguished career as a fast-medium bowler for Middlesex and Durham, then embarked on a very successful second career as journalist and television commentator. He’s also written two famously entertaining chronicles of his cricketing life: A Lot of Hard Yakka (winner of the William Hill Sports Book of the Year Award in 1997) and Yakking around the World.
Viewers of Channel 4′s coverage will know him as “the analyst”, the one who explains technical points, tactics and strategy, and other cricketing arcana. This book displays the same gift for making a complicated sport simple. It’s the long-missing answer to the famous “cricket as explained to foreigners” tea-towel (and school of thought)–the insiders have enjoyed baffling the ignorant for long enough and Hughes provides a clear primer to enlighten all those friends and relatives who’ve been totally unable to fathom the sport their loved ones are so addicted to. He assumes no knowledge and takes the reader through the basics of batting, bowling, fielding, captaincy et al. with great thoroughness. There are stills from Channel 4′s coverage to illustrate each point, which, though rather grainy and fuzzy, are still pretty helpful. He takes particular care with the LBW law, that epic source of confusion. Richie Benaud is brought in to unravel the subtleties of leg-spin (a bit more complicated, this).
The book is a fine introduction for anyone new to cricket. It doesn’t go into depth or try to be a coaching manual, but within its terms of reference, it’s an impressively competent tome. –David Pickering