“Elk Stopped Play is a universal pleasure and a hugely enjoyable reminder of a game which combines unquenchable enthusiasm with incomparable eccentricity. And it’s good to know there is barely a corner of God’s earth where you can walk without at least some chance of being hit by a cricket ball.” – Michael Palin. That’s MICHAEL PALIN
A glorious collection…a small book of uncomplicated brilliance.” – The Cricketer
Love shines from the pages, a love for cricket evident in both the reports themselves and the way the editor, Charlie Connelly, has updated them. Love, too, for people as well as the game.” – Spectator
“It would appear from this delightful book, which should be part of every cricket lover’s library, that wherever human beings have trod cricket is being played… ‘What do they know of cricket who only cricket know?’ C.L.R. James had asked. This book reveals the profundity of the question. Cricket is the story of empire; it is also about the end of the empire. Cricket is history, cricket is geography. Cricket is a means to survival. Cricket is about human endeavour. Cricket is more than a game.” – Calcutta Times
A true labour of love, this one. I was asked to write a piece for the 2011 Wisden Cricketer’s Almanack which, having collected Wisdens since I was thirteen, was one of those I-could-drop-dead-right-now-and-that-would-be-just-fine moments. It’s a good job I didn’t though, as the upshot of that piece was my getting to put together this little collection for Wisden.
Among the strengths of this book are that only little bits of it are actually written by me, and Michael Palin wrote the foreword.
All I did was pick out a few belting stories from the Cricket Round The World section of the Almanack and occasionally expand upon them (even though they were all quite capable of standing on their own two feet), but I’m quite proud of this little yellow book that has my name on the same cover as the word Wisden. There’s also a drawing of an elk on the cover, but between the two I’m proudest of the Wisden thing.
Anyway, enough of my onion-tears self-indulgence, here’s the skinny and a nice quote from All Out Cricket:
It can’t be often that Fidel Castro, the gangs of Los Angeles, Biggles and an agitated Finnish elk appear together in a book, especially one about cricket.
All feature in ‘Elk Stopped Play’, a collection of tales garnered from the Cricket Round The World section of the ‘Wisden Cricketer’s Almanack’ that takes the reader on a thrilling tour of the game’s global byways and backwaters. It’s a journey that takes us literally from pole to pole through searing heat and merciless cold in search of the sound of leather on willow.
Among other things we learn how Just William and Biggles may have turned out for the same team in Iceland, meet the mountain people who walk two hours in forty degree heat just to play cricket, visit the island where “matches lasted for several weeks at a time and often ended in considerable slaughter”, unearth the worst national team in the world (who once lost a 50-over game by 510 runs) and discover how a cricket match at Chatham Dockyard may have caused the Crimean War.
Add in Horatio Nelson’s contribution to the birth of cricket in Italy, the match in which thirteen batsmen were recorded as ‘retired frozen’ and the unexpected cricketing pedigree of the poinsettia and it’s clear that this is no ordinary cricket book.
Compiled and annotated by Charlie Connelly with a foreword by Michael Palin, ‘Elk Stopped Play’ combines the funny and the poignant, the heroic and the farcical and the historic and the contemporary to provide a vivid and engaging portrait of cricket’s startlingly widespread global appeal.
“An enchanting treasure-trove of anecdotes and uncommonly fine travel writing… A breezy, effortless read and the easiest gift you’ll ever buy for the cricket fan in your life, Elk Stopped Play is a rare treat.” All Out Cricket
Order via this pretty picture here: