That Will Be England Gone: The Last Summer of Cricket

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When Michael Henderson visited Trent Bridge for the first day of the 2019 cricket season, he used 800 words to tell The Times readers that this would be the last season of county cricket as we understood the game. Next year we shall have The Hundred, whatever that may be, and championship cricket will be diminished to the point of invisibility. The summer of 2019 is interesting in other ways. There was a World Cup in this country, which England weren’t expected to win. And there was the Ashes series. But this book would not be about the World Cup or the Australia series, with one notable exception. This text is a tour d’horizon of cricket, from April to September, in England. Partly autobiographical, Henderson revisits places that shaped his love of the game, in order to understand how cricket has changed in his lifetime.

ISBN: 9781472132888 Author: Henderson, Michael Publisher: Constable, Little, Brown Book Group Publication Date: 30th April 2020 Imprint: Constable Cover: Hardback Dewey: 796.3580942 (edition:23) Pages: 296 Language: English Readership: General - Trade / Code: K Category: Subjects: , , , , ,

Included in the Financial Times best books of 2020 selection

‘For those who fear the worst for the sport they love, this is like cool, clear water for a man dying of thirst. It’s barnstorming, coruscating stuff, and as fine a book about the game as you’ll read for years’ Mail on Sunday


‘Charming . . .
a threnody for a vanished and possibly mythical England’ Sebastian Faulks, Sunday Times

‘Lyrical . . . [Henderson’s] pen is filled with the romantic spirit of the great Neville Cardus . . . This book is an extended love letter, a beautifully written one, to a world that he is desperate to keep alive for others to discover and share. Not just his love of cricket, either, but of poetry and classical music and fine cinema’ The Times (best summer books)

‘To those who love both cricket and the context in which it is played, the book is rather wonderful, and moving’ Daily Telegraph

‘Philip Larkin’s line ‘that will be England gone’ is the premise of this fascinating book which is about music, literature, poetry and architecture as well as cricket. Henderson is that rare bird, a reporter with a fine grasp of time and place, but also a stylist of enviable quality and perception’ Michael Parkinson

Neville Cardus once said there could be no summer in England without cricket.

The 2019 season was supposed to be the greatest summer of cricket ever seen in England. There was a World Cup, followed by five Test matches against Australia in the latest engagement of sport’s oldest rivalry. It was also the last season of county cricket before the introduction in 2020 of a new tournament, The Hundred, designed to attract an audience of younger people who have no interest in the summer game.

In That Will Be England Gone, Michael Henderson revisits much-loved places to see how the game he grew up with has changed since the day in 1965 that he saw the great fast bowler Fred Trueman in his pomp. He watches schoolboys at Repton, club cricketers at Ramsbottom, and professionals on the festival grounds of Chesterfield, Cheltenham and Scarborough. The rolling English road takes him to Leicester for T20, to Lord’s for the most ceremonial Test match, and to Taunton to watch an old cricketer leave the crease for the last time. He is enchanted at Trent Bridge, surprised at the Oval, and troubled at Old Trafford.

‘Cricket,’ Henderson says, ‘has always been part of my other life.’ There are memories of friendships with Ken Dodd, Harold Pinter and Simon Rattle, and the book is coloured throughout by a love of landscape, poetry, paintings and music. As well as reflections on his childhood hero, Farokh Engineer, and other great players, there are digressions on subjects as various as Lancashire comedians, Viennese melancholy and the films of Michael Powell.

Lyrical and elegiac, That Will Be England Gone is a deeply personal tribute to cricket, summer and England.

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