Not many sports books could retain a freshness and topicality almost 50 years after their first publication. Next Man In, revised and expanded to take in the many changes that have come to cricket during the 90s, does just that. It is still compulsive reading for fans, perhaps more so now than ever before. If you haven’t read it and think you know and understand the laws of cricket, then think again.

It is the complete cricketing education. Each of the laws of the game is listed by chapter but then brought to life through anecdotes and illustrations that both inform and, more importantly, entertain. Not a few of the restrictions and regulations we would pass off as being mandatory for a civilised game of cricket to be played today are shown to have been drawn up only after blatant gamesmanship or the mischievous antics of players. The story of Dennis Lillee trying to get away with the use of an aluminium bat against England is legendary but how many people know he was once no-balled for bowling an apple in his first over against Sussex. Thankfully the powers-that-be resisted the temptation of including a “Thou shalt not bowl apples” clause. Surely, however, the umpires ruled incorrectly when a New Zealand fielder was not allowed what appeared to be a legitimate catch off a Pakistani batsman in Dhaka because. In his other hand, he was holding a banana that had been pelted at him from somewhere in the crowd. Such are the issues which Gerald Brodribb tackles in a book that, with its newly written appendix considering one-day cricket, is as relevant now as it always was and is always likely to be. –Thrasy Petropoulos.

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