A changing sport, a changing nation: the illuminating story of John Arlott and E.W. ('Jim') Swanton’s role in the transformation of post-war cricket.
A fascinating account of how two BBC broadcasters battled for the soul of English cricket during a time of great social change
For more than a quarter of a century after the Second World War, as the BBC tightened its grip on the national consciousness, two of the most famous English voices were commentators on games of cricket. John Arlott and E.W. ('Jim') Swanton transformed the broadcasting of the nation's summer game into a national institution.
For any cricket follower in his fifties or older, just the mention of their names immediately evokes a flood of memories. Swanton was born into a middle-class family and privately educated; Arlott was the son of a working-class council employee, educated at state schools until he left at the age of sixteen. Because of their strong personalities and distinctive voices - Swanton's crisp and upper-class, Arlott's with its Hampshire burr - each had a loyal following in the post-war years, when England's class system had a slot for almost everyone.
Within a few minutes of the start of a conversation, it would be possible to identify the speaker as an Arlott or a Swanton man. Arlott and Swanton never grew to like each other, but both typified the contrasting aspects of post-war Britain and the way both it and the game they loved was to change. As England moved from a class-based to a more egalitarian society, nothing stayed the same - including professional cricket.
Wise, lively and filled with rich social and sporting history, Arlott, Swanton and the Soul of English Cricket shows how these two very different men battled to save the soul of the game as it entered a new era.
Publisher: Bloomsbury Publishing PLC
Number of pages: 400
Weight: 292 g
Dimensions: 198 x 129 mm
'Those old enough will welcome a wonderful insight into the cricketing voices of their childhood. Arlott, Swanton and the Soul of English Cricket reflects upon two titans of cricket journalism and broadcasting. Youngsters can discover them for the first time. Stephen Fay and David Kynaston combine seamlessly to produce a gem of a book' - Vic Marks, The Observer
'Magnificent ... One of the best cricket books I've read in years: it makes long-forgotten matches live and breathe as though they were played yesterday' - Marcus Berkmann, The Daily Mail
'A chronicle of 20th-century class difference, elegantly observed through the lives of the two men and their attitudes towards their beloved sport' - Emma John, The Guardian
'A wonderfully readable and illuminating account of the game in the last half of the 20th century ... Beautifully written, meticulously researched and stuffed with rich sporting and social history, this must already be a candidate for Sports Book of the Year. Unputdownable' - Michael Simkins, The Mail on Sunday
'A triumph ... [Kynaston and Fay] both have inside-outside sensitivities that keep this near-seamless collaboration shrewd, worldly, balanced and fresh' - The Times Literary Supplement
'[A] delightful and thoughtful book ... A nostalgic delight' - Standpoint
'John Arlott and EW Swanton defined cricket commentary in the second half of the 20th century ... As this wonderful biography shows, they were united by their love of the spirit of cricket, and stood together in resisting anything that compromised it, from bullying moguls to racism' - The Daily Telegraph