Steve Waugh writes his World Cup diary in Jaipur

Steve Waugh in Jaipur: the cover of his 1996 World Cup diary

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Feature

Captains' chronicles

How players' accounts of touring life evolved from terse reportage to colourful insider tales to vanilla detailing

Gideon Haigh |

History would be kind to him, Winston Churchill thought: he intended writing it himself. Cricket captains have often inclined to the same opinion, setting out to tell the stories of their series from the inside, as they happened or soon after. In Australia especially, the "captain's diary" is a flourishing institution: Michael Clarke's Ashes Diary (2015) was the 18th such release in the last 20 years. As the annual yellow dawn of Wisden is to England, a publication by the incumbent Aussie skipper acts as a kind of prelude to summer, also rounding off the preceding year.

They are diaries of a particular sort, of course. Conventionally a diary has been a journal kept for oneself, rather than for sharing with tens of thousands of fans. The published musings of a leader while he is leading, furthermore, will always risk looking like an exercise in self-promotion and self-justification. An appetite for them remains, however, perhaps out of a sneaking desire for authenticity. Most of the time we hear captains' thoughts through the medium of others' questions, others' interpretations. Diaries, however constructed in their natures, however circumspect in their views, contain the promise of history by those busy making it.

That's certainly the case with the very first of its kind. In its rediscovery of the myth of the urn, Pelham Warner's How We Recovered the Ashes (1904) is regarded as one of the most significant cricket books of all - as a result of the MCC team having Lady Darnley, the trophy's original incinerator, as a co-passenger on the SS Orontes. It also represents the first time a Test skipper told the story of a series from the inside. It is possible, in fact, that the two are related: that Warner's motivations in rekindling the Ashes were partly literary, to establish the notion of a quest. Certainly he was later taken to task for the use of such a crude device: one reviewer chided Warner for "slang… of only very temporary significance", another for "rather undignified borrowing from the yellow press".

Richie Benaud it was who became the first Australian skipper to tell it as it happened more or less around the time it happened

On the page, Warner's book does not resemble a diary: it is not laid out day by day; it is severe in its personal reticence. "The difficulties of writing the account of a cricket tour in which one has had the privilege of acting as captain, is that one is almost invariably obliged to adopt the personal note," he explains. "I do greatly hope, however, that there is not too much of an Everlasting Ego about this plain, unliterary narrative." Yet it is more a contemporaneous record than some modern diaries, relying on despatches sent home to the Westminster Gazette, like the previous works of this most peripatetic cricketer, Cricket In Many Climes (1900) and Cricket Across the Seas (1903). Warner also grasped the challenge facing every post hoc publication: the series had been lavishly reported; the news in the book was old. Warner addressed this with the claim that much of what had been reported was at deviance from the facts: "The inner history of the tour, naturally enough, never got into the papers, more especially in the way of criticism and comment, was so distinctly incorrect and misleading that I believe most lovers of cricket will like to have the true story set before them clearly and simply." Unfortunately for posterity, Warner was too much the diplomat to impart much "inner history": his idea of setting the record straight was the occasional elaborate quibbling in detail:

Mr F. A. Iredale in cabling to the Daily Mail, stated that Braund was missed three times! As a matter of fact his only chance was a barely possible one from a very hard drive to Trumble's right hand. Now Mr Iredale was, and I believe still is a very fine batsman, one who has made his century in a Test match; but to judge him by the cables he sent home, he really does not know what is a catch and what is not. Indeed he reminds me of that type of reporter who together with the more ignorant section of a crowd always imagines a "bump ball" is a catch.

Warner's restraint gave way only on the issue of Australian crowds, whose "barracking" he deplored. He deprecated their response to umpiring decisions; he was caustic about their complaints during rain interruptions. "Yes; they are a lovely crowd at Sydney," he wrote sarcastically, "and anyone who has taken part in a Test match there may consider himself thoroughly salted and fit to play before an audience from the infernal regions." His tactfulness elsewhere notwithstanding, such sallies did not go unnoticed. "Mr Warner really is wasted as a cricketer," complained Sydney's Evening News.

A man who could make such a sensational story out of the doings of a few ignorant youths, who were being robbed of their money and their half-holiday simultaneously, should go to New York, where a 'yellow' journal would afford him scope for his literary gifts. His record of 'troubles' is a pitiful thing, and he will live to be sorry that he wrote it. Other captains have had their troubles, Australian captains not less than those of England; but, thank goodness, not one of them has yet got as far as publishing a 'book' on the subject.

Pelham Warner and Douglas Jardine: not fans of Australiana

Pelham Warner and Douglas Jardine: not fans of Australiana © PA Photos

The book was a success, nonetheless: it earned Warner a princely £300, not bad for a young man whose career at the bar was perennially compromised by his career with the bat. It inspired him to two further captain's travelogues, MCC in South Africa (1906) and England v Australia (1912), tactful, emollient, always imperially loyal. Reading them now, it is easy to imagine his discomfiture when he returned to Australia in October 1932 as the manager of MCC.

Douglas Jardine's recovery of the Ashes won him few friends on the pitch - or, in due course, on the page. In Quest of the Ashes (1933) is as uncompromising as Bodyline itself was: Jardine peppered the Australian character almost as relentlessly as Larwood and Voce had peppered Australian batsmen. Like Warner, he took exception to Australian crowds; unlike Warner, he assailed "the evils of barracking" as symptomatic of Antipodean inferiority.

That Australians themselves are extraordinarily sensitive to criticism is a fact which any visitor to their country will have discovered for himself. I find it, therefore, the harder to understand why no effort has been made by cricketing authorities to moderate or suppress a line of conduct which, though universally condemned, has frequently produced just the type of criticism one would expect Australians, resenting it as they do, to do their utmost to prevent.

Unlike most Englishmen, the Australian, while impatient of criticism from without, is not given to criticising either himself or his country. He reserves his criticism for direction against other countries and their inhabitants. His general attitude is too frequently that of the Irishman who said: 'My mother right or wrong, my wife drunk or sober' - Australia can do no wrong in his eyes.

I will not go so far as to say that there are not occasionally circumstances which might justify such an attitude. Australians, however, would do well to remember sometimes that there are other standards of behaviour besides their own, and that it is possible that there is much to be said in favour of those other standards.

When it came to addressing Bodyline, Jardine dismissed it as a beat-up, blaming "the popular press" for "keeping alive and infusing bitterness into the bodyline bowling controversy": "The arena, hitherto sacred to eleven players on either side, has been invaded by newspapers, broadcasters and spectators. Well may this prove to be the death knell of cricket for those happy ones who still regard it as a survival from the days of chivalry, and a modern substitute for the tourney of knights, that was played on the same green turf."

Diaries, however constructed in their natures, however circumspect in their views, contain the promise of history by those busy making it

Except that no reader detected much of a note of chivalry in Jardine's acerbic prose. A reviewer in the Times thought that while Jardine's position was "sound enough", his was "hardly a helpful book"; Neville Cardus in the Manchester Guardian (as it was then known) believed that it contained "scarcely a page… which gives us the lovable flavour of the game". It became an exhibit in the case against Jardine made by, among others, Warner, in his own subtle, backchannels way. "His book is full of contemptuous and disparaging remarks of Australia and Australians, and in his chapter on the IVth Test, at Brisbane, he actually has the impertinence to justify his questioning of the umpires' decisions; and he a captain of England!!" he wrote to his friend, the Earl of Gowrie, South Australia's governor. "But please, keep my own opinion on DRJ to yourself."

This last criticism seems harsh. Jardine in the section questioned was uncharacteristically restrained: "We experienced three decisions which, with the best will in the world, we could not consider as otherwise than unsatisfactory. There is nothing to be gained by labouring the point, and I only mention it here as the decisions, which I shall not refer to in detail, were the subject of considerable discussion at the time. Suffice it to say that for the remainder of the tour we had no further cause for complaint."

There's no doubt, though, that Jardine's book made it easier for Marylebone's grandees to dispense with his services. As his generally sympathetic biographer Christopher Douglas notes: "Had he waited a little longer before committing himself to paper, a more balanced account might have emerged, but as it was, six months of bottled-up resentment flowed." With the passage of the years, Jardine's appraisal of the series, and of Don Bradman, did indeed mellow. "We nearly didn't do it, you know," he would say. "The little fellow was bloody good."

Twenty years after Jardine, another captain in Australia thought deeply on the experience, but expressed himself more mildly. Jack Cheetham's Caught by the Springboks (1953) is a quiet, shrewd and measured book, flavoursome of his leadership, which was all about persuading an inexperienced but hard-working team they could compete with an Australian side that since the end of the Second World War had won 24 Tests and lost two: their feat of squaring the series is one of Test cricket's best underdog tales.

Richie Benaud's book on the tied Test and the famous Old Trafford Test of 1961 was the first such account by an Australian captain

Richie Benaud's book on the tied Test and the famous Old Trafford Test of 1961 was the first such account by an Australian captain © Getty Images

"Father said determination, concentration and application were the watchwords of every successful person," Cheetham reported, and it is to be felt on every page of his diary. Weak in batting and bowling, Cheetham's team famously excelled in fielding but less famously in singing. When the Springboks were under the cosh during the third Test, for example, Cheetham called for a tune.

We walked off the field, and gathered disconsolately in the dressing room. It was easy to see that the boys were a bit down in the mouth… There was only one thing to do and I did it. Gathering the chaps round the table, we launched into a sing-song. At first they didn't respond, but with [manager] Ken Viljoen joining in, and the boys relaxing a bit, we soon made the rafters ring. Friends dropped in to sympathise, and joined the circle - were we downhearted - never.

Cheetham's formula, which he reprised for South Africa's 1955 tour of England in I Declare (1956), was meticulous daily recording of events. If there were notes, they would have been voluminous. He caught the names of every guest speaker, coped unflappably with every inconvenience. In Hobart, for example, a shortage of hotel rooms necessitated him sharing with Viljoen. "The sight of two full grown men sharing a single bed caused the chambermaid to cross herself as she walked in with the tea next morning."

By the time player diaries began their proliferation in the 1990s, part of the allure lay in their describing a sequestered world, cordoned off from outsiders by layers of bureaucracy and security

Above all things, Cheetham was a master of diplomacy. In Brisbane he acted as interpreter for the Italian Davis Cup team, using phrases he had picked up interrogating prisoners in the Western Desert in North Africa. Unlike Warner and Jardine, Cheetham enjoyed his welcome from Antipodean spectators, who were "most appreciative of good fielding, batting and bowling, and always ready to back the underdog". His blind spot concerned his own country, which had just formalised the racial classifications for which it would be anathematised. He describes a "pleasant hour" of conversation with a team-mate "discussing how I would arrange to be manager of the side in 1972, when all three of my sons were playing for South Africa in Australia". But while two of his sons did advance to first-class cricket, by then there would be no Springboks to catch for.

A further decade would elapse before the inaugural captain's diary by an Australian. Why did it take so long? The tour books of Warner, Jardine and Cheetham reflected their amateur status - they belonged to traditions of gentleman cricketers subsidising their incomes by writing about the game. Restrictions imposed by Australia's Board of Control, by contrast, rendered it more or less impossible to write contemporaneously of cricket except if one was a proper journalist like Jack Fingleton, Arthur Mailey or, eventually, Richie Benaud. And Benaud it was who became the first Australian skipper to tell it as it happened more or less around the time it happened, with the Tale of Two Tests (1962), recounting the tied Test of 1960 and the Old Trafford Test of 1961, and Spin Me A Spinner (1963), chronicling the 1962-63 Ashes.

The challenge for Benaud lay in the material. The first book, concentrating on two great matches, was duly exciting and dramatic; the second book, describing a rather uninspiring series, was an altogether greyer affair, Benaud, with a sense of the board's sensitivities, treading warily around the few controversial moments. As the chronicle of a home summer Spin Me a Spinner also lacked the dimension of the traveller's tale, and so, like the series itself, rather plodded from one game to the next.

Ian Chappell's stories were as colourful as his personal style

Ian Chappell's stories were as colourful as his personal style © Getty Images

The Australian captain who challenged literary mores was Ian Chappell, by putting together Tigers Among the Lions (1972) and Passing Tests (1973) to cover tours to England and the West Indies respectively. His material was better - a colourful team rebuilding after a fallow period, Australia's win at Lord's in June 1972 being its first Test victory in two and a half years. His tone was chattier too, less formal, more in the vein of the snappy mauve safari suit in which the stylish Chappell arrived in London. And if the books contained nothing much to raise a flutter in the dovecotes at Cricket House, they were flecked with the colour of touring life: in England, encountering Douglas Bader, the ace Second World War fighter pilot, taking in Tutankhamun at the British Museum, lunching with the Australian singer Kamahl, singing at Pontarddulais Rugby Club; in the Caribbean, yachting in Antigua, discoing in Georgetown, and collecting stuffed alligators.

In tune with the times, the diaries were also executed in a new way. Chappell recorded his thoughts on tapes that were transcribed and pounded into prose by his publisher at Adelaide's Investigator Press. He threaded his way through the various "player-writer" prohibitions by, on Benaud's advice, joining the Australian Journalists' Association, further disarming the board by inviting his 1972 manager, Ray Steele, to contribute the foreword. "I enjoyed both his cricket and his companionship throughout the tour and the more I saw of him the more I admired his basic down-to-earth attitude and freedom from humbug," wrote Steele - not a view popular at the board five years later.

"Nella was very emotional about it and there were plenty of tears, tears of anger and frustration. When I told Langers: 'You're going to India', there was no smile, no celebration - he just looked at me and said: 'But why?'" Graeme Smith

It was the misfortune of Chappell's brother Greg to be collaborating in his own captain's diary during that interlude: the Sturm und Drang of Kerry Packer's World Series Cricket (WSC) is the soundtrack to Ashes '77 (1977), to which Greg contributed in partnership with David Frith, then editor of the Cricketer. The younger Chappell's team was demoralised on the park ("Everybody seemed to have their bums dragging along the ground and the fielding was so slovenly that I simply had to demand an immediate and marked improvement") and off ("Some of the players, sitting talking in the lounge, suddenly found themselves taking part in a 'hate session', with the bitterness and frustration built up during past weeks now pouring out"). The divided party made for passages unthinkable in previous captains' logs.

Some of the younger players vented criticism of the more experienced members of the team, and Doug Walters copped the lot. When things aren't going well it seems that a person turns upon the nearest other person, and it was a pity that the whole team wasn't there, for poor old Doug became the target. The younger players had grown restless at the lack of consistent success, but seemed to forget that the more experienced players were also very unhappy at the losses in the Test matches.

It was a gruelling tour for his confederate too. Doing the book on his own coin, Frith spent his first night on tour sleeping in his car. "The situation eased when Sydney journalist Brian Mossop let me sleep on the floor of his room," Frith recalled in his own autobiography (Caught England, Bowled Australia), "and became positively luxurious when the skipper arranged for use of the odd spare bed, one in David Hookes' room, another in Gary Cosier's. And so the book got written." Long before the word achieved currency, Frith was an embedded journalist.

None of the books enumerated so far, incidentally, styled themselves as "diaries", the word largely keeping the intimate personal connotations mentioned earlier. For a long time that was generally the case: even those classic player accounts of Major League Baseball seasons, Jim Brosnan's The Long Season (1960) and Jim Bouton's Ball Four (1970), eschewed the word, preferring descriptions such as "inside account" and "personal journal". The world, however, was changing. Sport was growing more hectic, more transitory, more individual: "diary", with its sense of day-by-dayness, rather suited environments where it could be hard to remember where one had been. When the American tennis star Arthur Ashe published his Portrait in Motion: The Arthur Ashe Diary (1975), bookended by the Wimbledons of 1973 and 1974, he chronicled 129 airplane trips of a total of 165,000 miles, and nights in 71 different beds. The sense of sauve qui peut was seeping into professional team sport as well. "Like all footballers," says the Irish international Eamon Dunphy in his classic season's journal Only A Game?: The Diary of a Professional Footballer (1976), "I thought only of myself."

While a student of history might value players' diaries, modern readers aren't as interested

While a student of history might value players' diaries, modern readers aren't as interested © PA Photos

The diary format was introduced to cricket by an unlikely innovator. Bob Willis' Diary of a Cricket Season (1979) chronicled the English summer of 1978, involving six Tests, although its principle backdrop was a dressing room at Warwickshire divided by its attitude to WSC, with whom the county's star batsman Dennis Amiss had controversially signed. Willis had sided with the establishment, while admitting that this had "opened vast corridors" to him, and that "for the first time I was able to exploit my commercial potential as England's only genuine pace bowler". A few years later and he was exploiting his commercial potential as England's captain by publishing day-by-day accounts of the 1982-83 Ashes tour and the following year's tours of New Zealand and Pakistan.

To read these two captain's diaries now is to be reminded of the degree to which English cricket in this era was defined by the humours of Ian Botham, and also by his relations with Fleet Street, where he was a highly paid columnist for the Sun, and thus a high-value target of its rivals. In The Captain's Diary (1983), co-writer Alan Lee, then of the Mail on Sunday, drew Willis out on the challenges of managing such a large personality. "It would be quite wrong to let our friendship influence what I have to do as skipper, but I owe him some of he faith he showed me," thought Willis at the outset of the series. But as Botham continued to fail, Willis' disillusionment grew. "The biggest let-down was Ian Botham," he was left to conclude.

It comes hard to have to say it, but it should come as no surprise to him.… 'I'll turn out the hot tap when it counts,' he kept saying. But he was to discover that turning on the tap did not always bring hot water gushing. I had several chats with him about his form, but he never shows outward signs of worry and his answer was always the same. 'I'll be fine next time - just wait until the next Test.' Sadly, he could only kid himself.

"The difficulties of writing the account of a cricket tour in which one has had the privilege of acting as captain, is that one is almost invariably obliged to adopt the personal note. I do greatly hope, however, that there is not too much of an Everlasting Ego about this plain, unliterary narrative" Pelham Warner

When England's failures a year later drew tabloid scrutiny of alleged off-field escapades, the tone of Willis' reports grew gloomier. The incursions of news journalists, as distinct from cricket correspondents, he foretold, would "radically alter the life of cricketers on tour".

We hear that the Daily Express has a news team in New Zealand and the Mail on Sunday has two new writers here in Lahore. All of them are looking into the gutters, and it is at times such as this that my long-term reservations about the press turn to plain anger… There is talk that they plan to pin a drugs scandal on certain members of the side. Such rumours are not new - some of a preposterous nature reached us while we were in New Zealand, but nothing to my knowledge appeared in print. I wonder to what depths these new arrivals are about to stoop… Nothing has changed. The proudest boast of one prominent ex-England player is that one day on an Australian tour just after the war, he drank twenty-seven beers without having a pee. If he had done that on this year's tour, he would probably have found himself on the front pages.

In a way, Willis accurately foresaw the estrangement of players and print media: "It could be a case of travelling everywhere together by bus, spending all free time in the team-room and being banned from drinking in the hotel bar. It would be a sorry end to what has been a very special camaraderie, but if players' private lives are to be so closely scrutinised it may be the job of the cricket authorities to ensure that they are largely invisible." By the time player diaries began their proliferation in the 1990s, in fact, part of the allure lay in their describing a sequestered world, cordoned off from outsiders by layers of bureaucracy and security. A little mystery, of course, never hurt anyone - arguably it made the authors seem more interesting than they were.

The master of the form, almost to the point of taking out a patent, began his involvement with it by accident. Geoff Lawson penned a readable Diary of the Ashes (1990) of the 1989 team led by Allan Border; Mike Whitney was contracted to do the same four years later, but lost his place, and Steve Waugh filled in, beginning a ten-diary sequence that is to Australian cricket in this time as Samuel Pepys' diary is to the Restoration. Turned from handwritten entries in exercise books into publishable Waughspeak by a young editor, Geoff Armstrong, they were also adorned with many of Waugh's own photographs. When Waugh succeeded Mark Taylor as Test captain in January 1999, the sales of these books grew nearly a third: No Regrets (1999), which charted Australia's World Cup victory, sold 60,000 copies, foreshadowing the record-breaking success of Waugh's final testament, his autobiography, Out of My Comfort Zone (2007), which sold 230,000.

The 1977 Australian Ashes squad, led by Greg Chappell, was an unhappy lot, divided by Packer and poor performances

The 1977 Australian Ashes squad, led by Greg Chappell, was an unhappy lot, divided by Packer and poor performances © Getty Images

With Waugh, the diary format came of age. He inspired imitation, among colleagues (Glenn McGrath, Justin Langer, and, at Kent, Ed Smith) and rivals (Alec Stewart, Nasser Hussain, Steve Harmison). None exerted quite his thrall, because none led such a team. Stewart's A Captain's Diary (1999), for example, makes for rather depressing reading: at one point, the team watching television highlights of their own performance are described as "in silence, almost like they were paying respects at a funeral". Shortly after the book's publication the luckless Stewart was sacked. Waugh, by contrast, produced diaries almost as reliably as he did unbeaten 150s: they had about them the same kind of calm implacability. When he handed on the captaincy, Waugh handed on the mantle of Australian chronicler also, Ricky Ponting settling into his estate with World Cup Diary (2003) - co-written, funnily enough, by Stewart's amanuensis Brian Murgatroyd, who as media officer had moved from the England and Wales Cricket Board to Cricket Australia.

As may by now be apparent, the institution of the captain's diary has been chiefly an Anglo-Australian affair, probably because of the continuity lent cricket in both countries by the institution of the Ashes, reinvigorated, of course, by that first book of Warner's. India's poor record on the road has probably militated against the genre there; the book markets of Pakistan, Sri Lanka and New Zealand are too small to support other than the occasional autobiography. Only one captain from another country has tilted at the genre in the last decade, Graeme Smith emulating his countryman Cheetham by charting 18 months in the development of his Proteas in A Captain's Diary 2007-2009 (2009). Its inspiration was a batting diary suggested to Smith by coach Paddy Upton; its range, because of the political sensitivities of his job, grew ever wider.

In tune with the times, Chappell recorded his thoughts on tapes that were transcribed and pounded into prose by his publisher at Adelaide's Investigator Press

Obliged to be as mindful of race as Cheetham had been oblivious to it, Smith chose, for example, to be frank about the decision by Cricket South Africa's president Norman Arendse to overrule selectors in the choice of a team to tour India, recounting how he broke the news that Andre Nel had been supplanted by Charl Langeveldt.

Nella was very emotional about it and there were plenty of tears, tears of anger and frustration. When I told Langers: 'You're going to India', there was no smile, no celebration - he just looked at me and said: 'But why?' He was very taken aback by his selection and he took the fax and put a red line through his name…

I had always felt very strongly about administrators who make decisions from behind a desk in an office without idea of the impact they have on real people with real emotions and careers to think about, and this was one of the worst examples.

Arendse, although no longer CSA's president by the time the book was published, demanded removal of the comments; Smith, supported by his players' association, stuck by them. The book is a valuable glimpse of a troubled structure: a celebration of success, but also predictive of future challenges.

Cricket is full of institutions in seeming decline. Is the diary among them? Ponting's, which he continued with Geoff Armstrong, started well: the first few, retrospectively constructed by interviews at the Rydges Hotel in Cronulla, are replete with interesting detail and candid thoughts on contemporaries. But with the best will in the world, they also grow more vanilla, perhaps partly from a nagging sensation that relatively few people actually read them, and that they are more in the nature of souvenirs. The last few are thick, inky and entirely forgettable. Michael Clarke's three diaries and Andrew Strauss' two have had their moments, while also reflecting that victory tends to the banal. The most involving moments of Clarke's Captain's Diary (2015) involve his struggles with his form, which passed almost unnoticed because of the concentration on a couple of grumpy remarks about a few of his detractors.

Ricky Ponting continued the tradition of captains' diaries that Steve Waugh had turned into a bestselling business

Ricky Ponting continued the tradition of captains' diaries that Steve Waugh had turned into a bestselling business © Getty Images

Yet we may not have seen the best of what is now quite a thick, if not perhaps rich, literary genre. Sir Walter Scott once described the diary as "a document useful to the person who keeps it, dull to the contemporary who reads it, and invaluable to the student, centuries afterwards, who treasures it". As a player's-eye view of this period of intense change, current diaries are laying down a valuable first draft of history. It is a shame, in fact, that no captain in the Indian Premier League has been tempted to put pen to paper, voice to tape or fingertip to tablet: the format might not lend itself to reflection, but the quotidian issues of blending a team of disparate individuals and being answerable to private proprietors strike one as being full of interest.

Such is the state of the game, meanwhile, that the recent past is already reading like historical curiosity. "I'm not sure the game lends itself to being played too seriously," recalled Ponting after a T20I against South Africa a decade ago, in Captain's Diary 2006 (2006).

As a batsman you're required to swing away from the very first ball, and as a bowler your aim is to concede something like 40 runs from your four overs. That's hardly cricket as we know it. Yet because life in the 21st century is moving so quickly and people only have so much spare time in their day, I know that we are going to have to embrace it…

It was all very nice to send the ground-record crowd home happy, but even with all the smiles about I still couldn't help thinking that Twenty20 is not really my game. Certainly, if we played a lot of it, I think cricketers and spectators alike would get sick of all the slogs, the sixes and the bowlers going for plenty. It's a game that could get old very quickly. One international game a season, maybe even an international tournament every four years, might be all right, though. If that's all there is, maybe I will get to like it. Eventually.

Welcome to "eventually", Punter.

Gideon Haigh is a cricket historian and writer

 

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  • POSTED BY Paul on | April 15, 2016, 11:51 GMT

    A good read. Two things strike me: (i) like politicians' memoirs, they're bound to be self-serving and (ii) there's now a requirement to include controversy. In days gone by, controversy was taboo. Jim Laker was kicked out of the MCC for publishing disparaging comments about Peter May. Nowadays, the situation is reversed. Without controversy, no publisher will touch it. Fred Titmus's two autobiographies, 30 years apart, epitomise this. All in all, these diaries may be commercially successful, but they're not great literature and they're not great commentaries either. But I shall now reread Jardine.

  • POSTED BY Simon on | April 9, 2016, 3:01 GMT

    Great read from a great writer. I tend to think the popularity of the Captain's, or tour, diary will disappear because of the immediacy I am showing here, as well as the sheer volume of accredited journos dissecting the minutiae of the game as it happens. By the time an Insiders view goes the traditional publishing route, either the public has moved on months ago, with a plethora of crises devoured and forgotten, making the published tour archaic, or as Gideon mentioned, the writers vanilla description, is treated with a yawn. Personally, the only way a diary could be considered relevant in 2020 is if it is published during or after the days play. Ironically that is the nature of a diary; a daily account! The future may very well be purchasing the electronic diary entries of the insiders, which have a more meaty content than the vapid Twitter utterings being served up now. Conversely, maybe the brief Twitter utterance is truly the definitive diary entry for T20 culture!