Sweet ‘scripture’ of cricket writing

Award-winning SJA member Duncan Hamilton has published his first book since the 2007 William Hill Sports Book of the Year.

Hamilton, author of the Brian Clough memoir Provided You Don’t Kiss Me, has worked on an edited collection of the writings of the Yorkshire Post‘s cricket writer Jim Kilburn, who died 15 years ago this summer. The book’s publication coincides with this week’s Headingley Test match between England and South Africa.

Kilburn covered cricket for the Post for more than 40 years, witnessing both Len Hutton’s then world record innings of 364 in 1938 and Yorkshire’s County Championship-winning glory years in the 1960s.

His writings recall the bygone days when 8,000 people watched Yorkshire’s County Championship matches and when journalists covering England’s Ashes tours travelled by ship with the players.

Sweet Summers: The Classic Cricket Writing of JM Kilburn has an introduction by Geoffrey Boycott, where he says that Kilburn’s Post reports were “read like scripture throughout the county”.

Hamilton, the deputy editor of the Yorkshire Post, told HoldTheFrontPage: “Kilburn is worth reading not only because he was a knowledgeable and respected interpreter of cricket – well-balanced, tough-minded and scrupulously honest in his verdicts – but also for the valuable historical and social perspective that reading him provides.

“Kilburn cast light on to eras long gone – but which are deserving of more than just sentimental reflection. The easiest thing to say after reading him is: how times change.

“In 1934, when Kilburn began writing for the Yorkshire Post, Bradman effortlessly stroked 304 in the Headingley Test, Yorkshire’s daily attendance for County Championship matches nudged 8,000 and amateurs frequently enjoyed superior dressing room or hotel accommodation to professionals.

“What fascinated Kilburn, and which illuminated his writing, were the technical aspects of cricket and the disparate skills and characters involved in its pure, hard combat.”

The book also contains contributions from other leading cricket writers, commentators and players including Dickie Bird, Richie Benaud, Christopher Martin-Jenkins, Brian Close, Ray Illingworth, Harry Gration and Don Wilson.

Sweet Summers: The Classic Cricket Writing of JM Kilburn is published by Great Northern Books, can be ordered online by clicking here

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