100 books like The Cricket War

By Gideon Haigh,

Here are 100 books that The Cricket War fans have personally recommended if you like The Cricket War. Shepherd is a community of 10,000+ authors and super readers sharing their favorite books with the world.

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Book cover of Beyond a Boundary

John Tilston Author Of Meanjin to Brisvegas: Snapshots of Brisbane's Journey from Colonial Backwater to New World City

From my list on British history beyond cliche, ideology, and spin.

Why am I passionate about this?

I’m a former journalist. I’m nosey. I like to know what’s going on around me. I like to know how the place I live in has evolved. I was born in the UK, but was taken to southern Africa as a child, so grew up with English parents in a colony of the former British empire. I moved to another former colony - Australia. I worked and lived in London for several years. In all of these places I have been fascinated by the history that shaped them. The books I have recommended and the research I did on my own have all helped me understand my place in the universe.

John's book list on British history beyond cliche, ideology, and spin

John Tilston Why did John love this book?

This is a book about cricket, one of the enduring passions of my life.

Specifically it is about West Indian cricket and life in the author’s home of Trinidad. James was a Marxist intellectual, which is unusual for a cricketer. He writes eloquently and insightfully about cricket and some of its leading characters of 80 years ago. He writes about class and colour in both the Caribbean and England, where he played and reported on cricket for newspapers.

My interest has also been in the British Empire and its impact. The overriding impression this book left with me was the “Britishness” of the people of Trinidad; how much the people had imbibed it. So when many immigrated to Britain in the 1950s it felt like they were going ‘home’, only for many to be ostracised.

By C.L.R. James,

Why should I read it?

6 authors picked Beyond a Boundary as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

This new edition of C. L. R. James's classic Beyond a Boundary celebrates the fiftieth anniversary of one of the greatest books on sport and culture ever written. Named one of the Top 50 Sports Books of All Time by Sports Illustrated "Beyond a Boundary ...should find its place on the team with Izaak Walton, Ivan Turgenev, A. J. Liebling, and Ernest Hemingway."-Derek Walcott, The New York Times Book Review "As a player, James the writer was able to see in cricket a metaphor for art and politics, the collective experience providing a focus for group effort and individual performance...[In]…


Book cover of The Willow Wand: Some Cricket Myths Explored

Duncan Stone Author Of Different Class: The Untold Story of English Cricket

From my list on cricket histories.

Why am I passionate about this?

A historian interested in the ‘cultural war’ over the legitimate form, function and meaning of sport, it is strange to look back and consider how ignorant I was of the class and cultural dynamics that shaped cricket in England until I began studying sport in my early thirties. Why, for instance, was English cricket ‘posh’ when compared to Australia? And why, within England, did the North and South have completely different cricket cultures and regional identities? These were questions I began to address in earnest and, a short twenty years later, I believe I finally have the answers. I could not have done it without these books. Enjoy! 

Duncan's book list on cricket histories

Duncan Stone Why did Duncan love this book?

Although best known for his A Social History of English Cricket (1998), The Willow Wand is, for me, Birley’s best cricket book. I imagine I’d have enjoyed Birley’s company for he not only writes with great humour, he understood exclusivity was not the same thing as quality and he burst the elitist bubble that had long surrounded the game in England by dissecting the game’s most treasured and fervently protected myths and personalities with forensic precision. 

Be it imperialism, the game’s most revered chronicler Neville Cardus or, even, the game’s premier icon W. G. Grace, Birley leaves no stone unturned, and he even alludes to the distinct regional identities that define the game in the North and South of England, which formed the basis of my own book.

By Derek Birley,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked The Willow Wand as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

The classic book on cricket.


Book cover of Anyone But England: Cricket and the National Malaise

Duncan Stone Author Of Different Class: The Untold Story of English Cricket

From my list on cricket histories.

Why am I passionate about this?

A historian interested in the ‘cultural war’ over the legitimate form, function and meaning of sport, it is strange to look back and consider how ignorant I was of the class and cultural dynamics that shaped cricket in England until I began studying sport in my early thirties. Why, for instance, was English cricket ‘posh’ when compared to Australia? And why, within England, did the North and South have completely different cricket cultures and regional identities? These were questions I began to address in earnest and, a short twenty years later, I believe I finally have the answers. I could not have done it without these books. Enjoy! 

Duncan's book list on cricket histories

Duncan Stone Why did Duncan love this book?

If James and Birley upset the game’s establishment, the impact of Marqusee’s Anyone But England was on an altogether different level. Like James, Marqusee was a Marxist. But where James pulled his punches and has, regrettably, been co-opted by English cricket’s establishment, there is very little danger of Marqusee ever suffering the same fate. One must only read his Wisden obituary to understand this. 

Suffice to say, Marqusee’s unflinching analysis exposed English cricket’s institutional hypocrisy, class discrimination, and racial prejudices long before the issues of elitism and racism became points of serious discussion in 2021. Considering this, it is a genuine tragedy that Marqusee and this book were not taken more seriously. Nevertheless, despite the passing decades, Anyone But England still packs a serious punch!

By Mike Marqusee,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Anyone But England as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

This work is a timely exploration of the bonds which tie English cricket to the English nation as both face apparently inexorable decline. Mike Marqusee, an American who has lived in England for 20 years, turns the amused gaze of an outsider on to the idiosyncrasies of the English at play, delving into the interminable wrangles over coloured clothing, covered pitches and commercial sponsorship. Yet Marqusee also displays the knowledgability and passion of a dedicated cricket follower who has watched matches on four continents. His accounts of the origins of the game, its romance with the British Empire, and its…


Book cover of Cricket: A History of its Growth & Development throughout the World

Duncan Stone Author Of Different Class: The Untold Story of English Cricket

From my list on cricket histories.

Why am I passionate about this?

A historian interested in the ‘cultural war’ over the legitimate form, function and meaning of sport, it is strange to look back and consider how ignorant I was of the class and cultural dynamics that shaped cricket in England until I began studying sport in my early thirties. Why, for instance, was English cricket ‘posh’ when compared to Australia? And why, within England, did the North and South have completely different cricket cultures and regional identities? These were questions I began to address in earnest and, a short twenty years later, I believe I finally have the answers. I could not have done it without these books. Enjoy! 

Duncan's book list on cricket histories

Duncan Stone Why did Duncan love this book?

Although a book that bites off more than it may comfortably chew, Bowen’s masterpiece could not be ignored. As the first (and only) attempt to tell the history of cricket on a global scale, Bowen’s analysis may appear, considering subsequent research, a tad superficial in places. However, as a point of reference, it is a remarkable – unique even – book that has belatedly been recognised as a classic. 

Why the delay? Bowen, as the game’s first maverick historian, was not only adept at exposing the inferior scholarship that then passed for cricket history, he also took great pleasure in baiting the establishment and those who thought they were part of it. As such, it is upon his shoulders, rather than James perhaps, that fellow ‘revisionists’ Birley, Marqusee, and myself stand upon.

By Rowland Bowen,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Cricket as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.


Book cover of Six and Out

Mark Pirie Author Of Slips: Cricket Poems

From my list on cricket literature if the match is rain affected.

Why am I passionate about this?

I’m a New Zealand writer, publisher, and editor, who has followed cricket since I was a boy. I've published poetry on many sports, including cricket, football, rugby, tennis, surfing, and netball, and edited/published anthologies of New Zealand cricket and football poems, "A Tingling Catch" and "Boots". My reading on the subject of cricket literature led me to seek out many different books and writers on a subject I didn’t think had an extensive history. I've played club cricket and schoolboy cricket and have a wide knowledge of the game from reading about its history and have visited cricket grounds such as Lord’s in London. I have been dubbed the “Poet-in-Residence” at The Cricket Society.

Mark's book list on cricket literature if the match is rain affected

Mark Pirie Why did Mark love this book?

Found at a book fair, Six and Out is a classic of Australasian cricket literature and the first book I came across that focused on New Zealand and Australian cricket writing. It is an anthology divided into groupings: cricket tales, cricket heroes, general cricket, cricket mayhem, cricket verse, and cricket cartoons. It has a something for everyone feel about it. Perfect for those rain affected matches. It was considered the best Australian cricket book ever published at the time. It was a ground-breaking grouping of cricket writings and first appeared in 1964. Jack Pollard followed cricket ever since he was a boy in minor grades and he was influenced by readers of the first edition on what to include as thousands wrote to him making suggestions. 

By Jack Pollard,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Six and Out as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.


Book cover of Bodyline: The Novel

Mark Pirie Author Of Slips: Cricket Poems

From my list on cricket literature if the match is rain affected.

Why am I passionate about this?

I’m a New Zealand writer, publisher, and editor, who has followed cricket since I was a boy. I've published poetry on many sports, including cricket, football, rugby, tennis, surfing, and netball, and edited/published anthologies of New Zealand cricket and football poems, "A Tingling Catch" and "Boots". My reading on the subject of cricket literature led me to seek out many different books and writers on a subject I didn’t think had an extensive history. I've played club cricket and schoolboy cricket and have a wide knowledge of the game from reading about its history and have visited cricket grounds such as Lord’s in London. I have been dubbed the “Poet-in-Residence” at The Cricket Society.

Mark's book list on cricket literature if the match is rain affected

Mark Pirie Why did Mark love this book?

Bodyline is a classic cricket novel based on a famous “Ashes” series in Australia during the Don Bradman era. The Ashes series (England v Australia) became legendary because of the bowling which became known as leg trap theory. Bowlers would bowl quick and fast and target the batsmen with short-pitched bowling. Australian batsmen were battered and bruised. The novel gives a blow-by-blow account of the series in Australia and the publicity and fallout generated from leg trap theory. Famously Australian batsman Bill Woodfull stated “There are two teams out there. One is trying to play cricket. The other is not.” It was a delight to find a literary novel on the subject. A must-read for understanding the evolution of the contemporary fast bowler in cricket. 

By Paul Wheeler,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Bodyline as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

The story of Paul Wheeler


Book cover of My Favourite Cricket Stories

Stuart Larner Author Of Guile and Spin

From my list on cricket that will bowl you over.

Why am I passionate about this?

I am a writer who has written an assortment of over a hundred and seventy different articles, poems, and books. I love cricket and have spent a lot of my life unsuccessfully learning how to play it. It still has a fascination for me. I am also a psychologist, and cricket has given me an even deeper understanding of human life.

Stuart's book list on cricket that will bowl you over

Stuart Larner Why did Stuart love this book?

This is a total gem of a book. It is a collection of all the best classic short stories about cricket that there are.

They have the Arthur Conan Doyle one called "The Story of Spedegue’s Dropper". This will always be my favourite. I roared with laughter at the Furniss Drawings in the book –  caricatures of WG Grace reprinted with permission from MCC. But besides these there are little gems collected from obscure sources, each of them brilliant in their own right.

Very rarely do you have anything so good in one volume. 

By John Arlott (editor),

Why should I read it?

1 author picked My Favourite Cricket Stories as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.


Book cover of The Lighter Side of Cricket

Stuart Larner Author Of Guile and Spin

From my list on cricket that will bowl you over.

Why am I passionate about this?

I am a writer who has written an assortment of over a hundred and seventy different articles, poems, and books. I love cricket and have spent a lot of my life unsuccessfully learning how to play it. It still has a fascination for me. I am also a psychologist, and cricket has given me an even deeper understanding of human life.

Stuart's book list on cricket that will bowl you over

Stuart Larner Why did Stuart love this book?

I love this book for its twists and jokes.

It’s full of little stories and you think at the beginning of each one that that it’s going to describe an interesting situation from a serious point of view. So you wait for the ending. But it suddenly turns at the last and gives you a totally unexpected comical twist.

I have heard a lot of cricket stories but I hadn’t heard the one about WG Grace before. This book is a diamond mine.

By Marks & Spencer,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked The Lighter Side of Cricket as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.


Book cover of The Poetry of Cricket

Mark Pirie Author Of Slips: Cricket Poems

From my list on cricket literature if the match is rain affected.

Why am I passionate about this?

I’m a New Zealand writer, publisher, and editor, who has followed cricket since I was a boy. I've published poetry on many sports, including cricket, football, rugby, tennis, surfing, and netball, and edited/published anthologies of New Zealand cricket and football poems, "A Tingling Catch" and "Boots". My reading on the subject of cricket literature led me to seek out many different books and writers on a subject I didn’t think had an extensive history. I've played club cricket and schoolboy cricket and have a wide knowledge of the game from reading about its history and have visited cricket grounds such as Lord’s in London. I have been dubbed the “Poet-in-Residence” at The Cricket Society.

Mark's book list on cricket literature if the match is rain affected

Mark Pirie Why did Mark love this book?

A book I found second-hand so it may not be widely available online. It is the quintessential anthology on the poetry of cricket dating back over 200 years and was described as a history in verse of the British national summer pastime. This was the book that first led to my interest in cricket literature and gives a meticulous history of cricket in poetry. All forms of cricket (club, village, schools, test, and international) are mentioned just as all forms of verse are used from doggerel, couplets, and single quatrains to longer narrative heroic poems on olden day cricket. The anthology shows Frewin’s great love of cricket and is a labour of love making it a masterpiece at the time it appeared in the 1960s.

By Leslie Frewin,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked The Poetry of Cricket as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

The Poetry of Cricket An Anthology


Book cover of Bonaventure and the Flashing Blade

Mark Pirie Author Of Slips: Cricket Poems

From my list on cricket literature if the match is rain affected.

Why am I passionate about this?

I’m a New Zealand writer, publisher, and editor, who has followed cricket since I was a boy. I've published poetry on many sports, including cricket, football, rugby, tennis, surfing, and netball, and edited/published anthologies of New Zealand cricket and football poems, "A Tingling Catch" and "Boots". My reading on the subject of cricket literature led me to seek out many different books and writers on a subject I didn’t think had an extensive history. I've played club cricket and schoolboy cricket and have a wide knowledge of the game from reading about its history and have visited cricket grounds such as Lord’s in London. I have been dubbed the “Poet-in-Residence” at The Cricket Society.

Mark's book list on cricket literature if the match is rain affected

Mark Pirie Why did Mark love this book?

Bonaventure and the Flashing Blade may not be available online as it’s another one I found second-hand. It’s written by one of the great West Indian cricket players Gary Sobers. Published in the 1960s it reads like a James Bond-Ian Fleming-type spy novel covering a youngster Clyde St Joseph Bonaventure at a computer company called Star Computers which has a cricket team that he plays for. Bonaventure makes headline news for inventing a way of playing cricket using a computer programme to smash over 200 runs and take 6 wickets for less than a hundred runs. Bonaventure finishes his training by completing his new programme for computers. Bonaventure is offered bribes by foreign competitors but refuses and is kidnapped by a “foreign power” but escapes.

By Gary Sobers,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Bonaventure and the Flashing Blade as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Bonaventure and the Flashing Blade Sobers, Gary


5 book lists we think you will like!

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