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Oborne & Heller on Cricket

Sports & Recreation Podcasts

Cricket authors (and obsessives) Peter Oborne and Richard Heller have launched a new podcast to help deprived listeners endure a world without cricket. They will chat regularly about cricket topics – hoping to keep a good line and length but with occasional wides into other subjects.


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Cricket authors (and obsessives) Peter Oborne and Richard Heller have launched a new podcast to help deprived listeners endure a world without cricket. They will chat regularly about cricket topics – hoping to keep a good line and length but with occasional wides into other subjects.






World Cricket And All That Shapes It Covered By Wisden Editor Lawrence Booth

Wisden Cricketers’ Almanack 2023 is the longest edition on record. It not only records the present state of global cricket but also reflects on the mighty global forces – political, social, commercial, environmental – which shape it. Its editor, Lawrence Booth, analyses its content as the guest of Peter Oborne and Richard Heller in their latest cricket-themed podcast. Lawrence begins by hailing the turnaround in England’s Test team under Ben Stokes as captain and Brendon McCullum as coach. Although the England team dislike the term Bazball he thinks it a healthy sign that the general public have adopted it for the enthralling blend of cricket they are playing. The only pity is that they are not seeing it on free-to-air television (a topic regularly ventilated in previous Wisdens) but he still hopes that this summer’s Ashes series might raise the profile of cricket as did that of 2005. He comments especially on Ben Stokes’ confidence in asking for fast flat wickets in the Ashes series in contrast to the conditions in which England have gained all their home series successes since 2001. Above all, Stokes and McCullum have removed the fear of failure from a previously careworn team. He suggests that Stokes’s character has deepened from the crises in his life: his empathy was illustrated by the consoling text he sent to the teenaged aspinner he had hit for 34 in an over. He views Brendon McCullum as the most significant cricketer of the last twenty years, given his innings which ignited the Indian Premier League on its first day and his contribution to the re-invention of Test cricket. A major theme in this year’s Wisden is the multiple threat to Test cricket from T20 Leagues which have induced leading players in the world to reduce their commitments to international series or even abandon them. Lawrence believes that it is too late to reverse this process but he hopes that national boards might grow sufficient spine to halt the release of players to new T20 Leagues, particularly that proposed in Saudi Arabia, which would transform the international scene if it secures the best Indian players. Lawrence comments pungently on the role of the International Cricket Council on three major topics covered in the Almanack: Afghan cricket since the Taliban takeover, cricket in Ukraine and the sponsorship deal with Aramco. The ICC has developed a habit of ducking fundamental decisions about the governance of the game and most of the full members are in permanent thrall to the financial and political power of India. Continue reading here: https://chiswickcalendar.co.uk/episode-118-world-cricket-and-all-that-shapes-it-covered-by-wisden-editor-lawrence-booth/ Get in touch with us by emailing obornehellercricket@outlook.com, we would love to hear from you.


Sovereigns, stars, stewards, scorers, statisticians … Steven Lynch on this year’s Wisden obituaries

Two monarchs lead the obituaries in the 2023 edition of Wisden Cricketers’ Almanack. As always, it is a melancholy but matchless memorial to global cricket’s losses, and a section to which many readers turn first. Its compiler and editor, Steven Lynch, discusses its selection and preparation as the guest of Peter Oborne and Richard Heller in their latest cricket-themed podcast. In this edition Roger Alton replaces Peter as co-host. Steven outlines the late sovereign’s long connexions with cricket, understandably placed above the alphabetical list (“we could not file her under Q for Queen”.) He does the same for her great-great-grandmother Queen Victoria, reflecting the Almanack’s current policy of retrospective tributes to women omitted from Wisden, as she was in the 1902 edition. The 195 following names ranged in age from a 16-year-old Indian schoolboy to a 102-year-old former umpire. Inevitably the number includes premature deaths from accident (such as Andrew Symonds and Rudi Koertzen) and suicide, but very broadly it suggests that cricket contributes to a long life. The former cricketers are led by Shane Warne and Rodney Marsh, who died on the same day: Warne’s final tweet was a tribute to Marsh. Steven wrote Marsh’s himself: Warne’s was by his long-time collaborator Richard Hobson. Other contributors were Matthew Engel and Richard Whiting. Steven explains the general policy of not naming obituarists, to emphasize that the tribute of whatever length is Wisden’s final judgement on the subject. The object is always, especially in those less well-known, to bring out some unexpected detail of character and career (as with the player who had fielded out the whole of Hanif Mohammed’s innings of 499). Steven felt that Warne’s tribute had brought home his acute cricket brain and hoped that Marsh’s would counter his early stock image as a beer-drinking larrikin to suggest the thoughtful man behind it. Steven also comments on: Jim Parks of Sussex and England, first of a long line of Test batsmen-wicketkeepers, generously helped into that role by Keith Andrew; Sonny Ramadhin, the great West Indian spin bowler, never the same after being made to bowl 98 overs against Peter May and Colin Cowdrey in 1957 with umpires who would not give him an lbw decision. He was the last survivor of the great West Indian touring team of 1950. Steven suggests that he and his partner Alf Valentine deserve a book to themselves; the talented but troubled Andrew Symonds, who preferred fishing to off-field official events including team meetings and was embittered by the resolution of his dispute with the Indian Harbijan Singh; the multi-gifted Andy Goram who played cricket as well as keeping goal for Scotland and annoyed a famous fast bowler by facing him without a helmet. Continue reading here: https://chiswickcalendar.co.uk/episode-117-sovereigns-stars-stewards-scorers-statisticians-steven-lynch-on-this-years-wisden-obituaries/ Get in touch with us by emailing obornehellercricket@outlook.com, we would love to hear from you.


From teenage record breaker to players’ champion: James Harris of Glamorgan and the PCA

After a record-breaking early start in county cricket for Glamorgan, James Harris is back with them after spells with Middlesex and Kent. He has also begun his second term as chair of the Professional Cricketers Association. He is the guest of Peter Oborne and Richard Heller in their latest cricket-themed podcast. In this edition Roger Alton replaces Peter as co-host. James has just returned from Glamorgan’s pre-season tour of Zimbabwe. He gives an upbeat account of the country and its cricket. He looks forward to reconnecting with his colleague Marnus Labuschagne, who will be rejoining the county in advance of the Ashes series. He describes him as a great player who has kept the eagerness of a t2-year-old. He gives an overview of the PCA. Its founder, Fred Rumsey of Somerset and England, had found it hard to recruit among the generally conservative cricketers of the 1960s. But this was not true today: membership for first-class cricketers was almost automatic, as they took stock of its wide range of services at a very reasonable subscription. It represented professional players in the first-class game, present and past (for life if they wanted). Present membership was 475 men and 99 women (up from 18 in just a few years). The membership included overseas players with an English professional contract and when necessary the PCA represented English players overseas. It had relationships with other countries’ players unions through the Federation of International Cricket Associations. He had involved himself under the influence of friends and team mates at Glamorgan, and as a payback for a fulfilling professional career of 17 years (at just 32). Re-elected for a second term, he would now serve as chairman for another two years. Although demanding, the job was a rich opportunity for personal development, combining board membership of the PCA, being a trustee of its charity, and a regular place at the table on major issues with the England and Wales Cricket Board. As the voice of playing members, he saw its prime responsibilities in securing for them a fair share of all the game’s revenues, looking after their welfare and well-being, creating an environment that encouraged them to play at their best, and to prepare them for life after their playing careers. The PCA had to react rapidly to constant change in domestic and global cricket. James explains the complex arrangements that now determine English county finances and players’ earnings. Although some counties are better off than others, he believes that English cricket is now reasonably stable financially, helped by money from the Hundred filtering down to all levels of cricket. He sees no danger of county clubs following rugby union clubs into insolvency with unsustainable wage bills. He describes the impact of the salary collar and cap in county cricket and the range of earnings from professional county cricket. The PCA had secured its objective of £27,500 a year as a starting salary for a professional in his first year. The 18 counties were independent employers not tied to a salary scale but he thought that their best-paid players were on something over £100,000. Earnings and opportunities were not remotely comparable with those of football, and he suggested that there was no economic motive for sportspeople to choose cricket for over other sports – they do this for the appeal of the game itself. Continue reading here: chiswickcalendar.co.uk/episode-116-from-teenage-record-breaker-to-players-champion-james-harris-of-glamorgan-and-the-pca Get in touch with us by emailing obornehellercricket@outlook.com, we would love to hear fr


The weird genius who revolutionized cricket history

Many eccentric geniuses have written about cricket, and indeed played it. Few have been as eccentric as Major Rowland Bowen – or had his genius. In 1970, after years of dedicated research (not all his own) he published Cricket: A History of its growth and development throughout the world. Long out of print, it is still unmatched in its global sweep, its presentation of arcane facts, and its insurrectionary daring (which delighted C L R James) in overturning almost sacred cricketing myths. It riled the cricketing Establishment of its day, especially those seeking to defend white supremacy. Russell Jackson is an award-winning Australian author and journalist. He became fascinated by Bowen and his contribution to cricket history. He has now inherited from the late Murray Hedgecock the daunting task of reviving Bowen’s work and making sense of his extraordinary life, as he explains to Peter Oborne and Richard Heller as the guest on their latest cricket-themed podcast. Russell speculates about the motives behind Bowen’s very personal and cantankerous crusade for the truth in cricket history. His career had echoes of John Le Carré: he was the son of a disgraced solicitor and served in Intelligence. In spite of family financial problems he attended Westminster School in the 1920s and was noted early as a cricket obsessive although not noted as a player. At seventeen, he became a member of the MCC (thanks to an influential proposer. Already a natural contrarian, he read cricket literature copiously and decided that almost all of it needed challenge and correction by himself. His actual trigger was Roy Webber, the leading scorer, who was the authority for a wrong fact on a quiz show. It inspired a lifetime’s war for his view of the truth in cricket. To achieve an outlet for this, he eventually founded his own subscription-only journal Cricket Quarterly in 1963. He had a habit of quarrelling violently with subscribers, striking them off, and rejecting new ones for fear that they were the old ones trying to sneak up on him under assumed names. This business model is not normally recommended to publishers, but CQ survived for 32 issues until 1971 and produced a highly influential corpus of work as the basis for his history. With its book it deserves a full re-issue. The undismissed subscribers formed a global network of amateur cricket historians and statisticians. Bowen was astute enough to enlist them as volunteer contributors of obscure local materials which he needed. Peter Hain was among them, and submitted to a volley of demands. He said that his only supporters for stopping the apartheid tour of 1970 in the world of cricket were John Arlott, David Sheppard – and Bowen. Russell suggests that Bowen’s central mission was to correct the established Anglocentric history of cricket with its almost exclusive focus on first-class matches. He stressed especially the long success of American cricket and the impact of its exclusion from the Imperial Cricket Conference in 1911. Financial pressures drove Bowen into the army. He served first in India and then in Intelligence in London in the 1950s as a map and topographical analyst. His main achievement was to be the first to detect the Soviet missiles which provoked the Cuban crisis of 1962. Continue reading here: https://chiswickcalendar.co.uk/episode-115-the-weird-genius-who-revolutionized-cricket-history/ Get in touch with us by emailing obornehellercricket@outlook.com, we would love to hear from you!


Two testaments of cricket and war

John Broom has combined his passions for cricket and military history in two books on global cricket in both world wars: Cricket In The First World War Play Up! Play The Game and Cricket In The Second World War The Grim Test. They are both meticulous and moving. He explains his mission in writing them, as the guest of Peter Oborne and Richard Heller in their latest cricket-themed podcast. John sought to fill a significant gap in cricket’s historiography. Eminent writers of standard works had all but ignored the wartime years. These were not only full of drama but also represented two lost opportunities to change the course of English cricket. Turning first to the Great War, John describes the mixed response of English cricket to its outbreak in August 1914. The English County Championship wound down and cricketers generally were urged (notably by the elderly W G Grace) to stop playing and serve the war effort. However, the Bradford League in Yorkshire controversially decided to continue and to take the chance to recruit some of the best County players, including Jack Hobbs, Frank Woolley and Jack Hearne. This generated some fierce attacks on the League and its participants. Cricket had never before had to come to terms with the demands of total war. Some players like Hobbs placed their first duties to their dependent families, others like Woolley and Phil Mead tried to enlist but were surprisingly rejected as unfit due to minor conditions. Most joined up immediately, on the urging of the counties and clubs, team mates often enlisting together in the same unit. The future England captain Arthur Carr joined his regiment from the crease when called by telegram, allowing himself one more over. He contrasts the mixed response of cricket to the outbreak of war with the demonstrative patriotism of rugby union and the much-attacked decision of association football clubs to carry on with their programme. Its mixed, even muddled, response preserved wartime cricket from either a total shut-down and mass extinctions of clubs or from general ostracism if it had carried on as usual. He also notes cricket’s very different reaction to the outbreak of the Second World War in September 1939. There was no belief that it would be “over by Christmas” (as in August 1914) and in business (and cricket) as usual. The touring West Indians went home early to avoid the expected U-boat attacks, although three, Learie Constantine, Manny Martindale and Bertie Clarke stayed on to make notable contributions to the war effort, including cricket. Continue reading here: https://chiswickcalendar.co.uk/episode-114-two-testaments-of-cricket-and-war/ Get in touch with us by emailing obornehellercricket@outlook.com, we would love to hear from you!


A story made for the movies – Pakistan women’s cricket

Based in Mumbai, Aayush Puthran is an experienced cricket reporter and analyst, with a strong focus on women’s cricket. He has written an inspirational book, Unveiling Jazbaa, which weaves together the astonishing personal stories of the creators and players of women’s cricket in Pakistan. Aayush begins by explaining the Urdu word Jazbaa. It has no precise English equivalent, but conveys a cocktail of emotions and passions which generate stunning unexpected achievement. It has been regularly applied to the Pakistan men’s team: he thought that the women’s team also deserved it, to convey their determination to step out. He outlines the early history of Pakistan women’s cricket in the 1970s, largely confined to well-connected women in élite institutions. As in India in the same era, it was much easier for women to take part in individual sports such as running or badminton or in hockey. Aayush tells the dramatic story of the Khan sisters of Karachi, Shaiza and Sharmeen (who sadly passed away in 2021). They pioneered Pakistan’s international women’s team against entrenched opposition and often great personal risk. Daughters of a wealthy father and a cricket-crazed mother (who had postponed her wedding to watch Pakistan play the West Indies), they had discovered themselves as cricketers during their English education during the 1980s. They identified with Pakistan’s increasingly successful men’s team of that period, but had no women’s team which they and others could aspire to. They therefore decided to create one from nothing. He explains the political background which made their ambitions and activities so dangerous. Pakistan’s then military dictator, General Zia ul-Haq had formed an alliance with deeply conservative fringe religious movements. They had promulgated the so-called Hudood Ordinances, imposing severe controls on the lives of women and girls, especially all activities outdoors, with severe punishments for alleged female transgressors of any kind. They could play cricket and other sports only in enclosed private spaces, such as the compound at their father’s carpet factory. When Zia was killed in an air crash in 1988 and replaced by Benazir Bhutto, Pakistan’s first female Prime Minister, the sisters thought it would be safe to organize a proper cricket match involving former men’s stars including the great Zaheer Abbas. They were mistaken. The religious ultras were still strong and the sisters faced death threats. They were forced instead to play an all-women’s match in the compound with a massive police presence, and their father demanded that they fly back to England immediately it finished. Continue reading here: https://chiswickcalendar.co.uk/episode-113-a-story-made-for-the-movies-pakistan-womens-cricket/ Get in touch with us by emailing obornehellercricket@outlook.com, we would love to hear from you!


After a hard day in Nagpur, the great cricket writer Mike Coward gives a masterclass on Australian cricket

Mike Coward is among the world’s most distinguished and distinctive cricket writers and broadcasters, although he graciously declines the title of “Australia’s John Arlott.” He makes a welcome return to the crease as the guest of Peter Oborne and Richard Heller in their latest cricket-themed podcast. Mike begins by responding to a grim result (for Australia): the innings defeat within three days in the first Test of their current series in India. Coming after two unsatisfying one-sided domestic series against West Indies and South Africa, it strained the loyalty of Australian cricket fans to Test match cricket. Across the world, this format, the summit of the game cannot afford a succession of uncompelling, poorly followed series. Recovery from the defeat in Nagpur would be a major challenge for Pat Cummins, as captain, who had recently faced criticism at home for his progressive stance on social and environmental issues outside cricket. He believes that Cummins, in line with a growing number of modern sports personalities, will maintain his involvement in these issues and predicts that he will grow as a leader on and off the field. A rare bright spot for Australia in the recent match was the début performance, capturing seven Indian wickets in their sole innings, of the off-spinner Todd Murphy, selected after a handful of first-class matches. Mike profiles the player, whose spectacles have earned him the inevitable nickname of Harry Potter in succession to Australia’s spin-bowling coach Daniel Vettori. He hails the temperament and methods which earned his success. Continue reading here: https://chiswickcalendar.co.uk/episode-112-after-a-hard-day-in-nagpur-the-great-cricket-writer-mike-coward-gives-a-masterclass-on-australian-cricket/ Get in touch with us by emailing obornehellercricket@outlook.com, we would love to hear from you!


An elephant never forgets India’s first Test victory in England

In August 1971 Bella the elephant from Chessington Zoo travelled to the Oval to watch India’s historic first Test match victory in England. Her story gives the title to the fascinating book, Elephant In The Stadium, by the historian Arunabha Sengupta. Around it he weaves not only the gripping cricket played in the series but also the major surrounding events, the political, social and cultural history of India’s relationship with Britain and its empire, and its enduring legacy. He is the guest of Peter Oborne and Richard Heller in their latest cricket-themed podcast. Read the full description here: https://chiswickcalendar.co.uk/episode-111-an-elephant-never-forgets-indias-first-test-victory-in-england/ Get in touch with us by emailing obornehellercricket@outlook.com, we would love to hear from you!


How professionals save soccer – but not cricket – from public school amateurs, explains sports historian Richard Sanders

In the British isles cricket had a start on association football of over a hundred years as a game with Laws, organization and popular following. In the late Victorian era it was overtaken in a short time. Based on his fascinating book Beastly Fury on the strange birth of British football, the distinguished documentary maker and sports historian Richard Sanders teases out the reasons why. He is the latest guest of Peter Oborne and Richard Heller in their cricket-themed podcast. Richard’s book begins with an account of the astonishing mass football match – or more accurately battle – all over Derby in 1846. It was a survival of mediæval festivities on Shrove Tuesday when normal life was turned upside down by a lord of misrule. But alongside these exhibitions of mass mayhem were much more organized and disciplined local matches of “folk football”, with set numbers playing over a prescribed area. In these are the true origins of the modern football which emerged in the late nineteenth century. He combats the persistent myth that public schoolboys civilized and controlled the anarchy of folk football. The opposite was more true: contact with folk football civilized the public schoolboys. The historic seven “great schools” of the early nineteenth century had all evolved their own bizarre forms of football filled with psychotic violence... Read the full description here: https://chiswickcalendar.co.uk/episode-110-how-professionals-save-soccer-but-not-cricket-from-public-school-amateurs-explains-sports-historian-richard-sanders/ Get in touch with us by emailing obornehellercricket@outlook.com, we would love to hear from you!


Cricket, diplomacy and a fierce despatch from Freddie Flintoff

Cricketer, diplomat and author Tom Fletcher is now Principal of Hertford College, Oxford. As the UK’s ambassador to Lebanon, he made notable efforts to support the country’s cricketers, especially from its community of Sri Lankan workers. Previously, he served in 10 Downing Street as the principal adviser on foreign policy to three British Prime Ministers, Tony Blair, Gordon Brown and David Cameron. He is the guest of Peter Oborne and Richard Heller in their latest cricket-themed podcast. Read the full description here: https://chiswickcalendar.co.uk/episode-109-cricket-diplomacy-and-a-fierce-despatch-from-freddie-flintoff/ Get in touch with us by emailing obornehellercricket@outlook.com, we would love to hear from you!


England versus Pakistan – the first seventy years with historian Najum Latif

As England play their first Test series in Pakistan for nearly twenty years one of the country’s leading cricket historians, Najum Latif, describes their reception and celebrates the timely republication of a classic work on the start of England’s cricket relationship with the country. He is an expert tour guide to a vanished world as the guest of Peter Oborne and Richard Heller in their latest cricket-themed podcast. Read the full description here: England versus Pakistan – the first seventy years with historian Najum Latif Get in touch with us by emailing obornehellercricket@outlook.com, we would love to hear from you!


Another thrilling spell from fast bowling legend Wes Hall

Few sights in cricket’s history have been more thrilling than the great West Indian fast bowler Wes Hall in the 1960s bounding in from his long run. He is now Sir Wesley Hall and the subject of a fine new biography Answering The Call by Paul Akeroyd. He creates the same thrill in his spell as the guest in the latest cricket-themed podcast by Peter Oborne and Richard Heller. In Peter’s absence, Roger Alton again faces the bowling. Peter, Richard and Roger are delighted to put out the appeal again for the MCC Foundation, the MCC’s charity, in the week in which all contributions are automatically doubled. They will be used in support of the wonderful Alsama project in Lebanon which has brought cricket to war-damaged children and to extend the Foundation’s efforts to bring cricket to children in deprived areas at home. To learn more about the appeal and contribute please use this link. https://donate.thebiggive.org.uk/campaign/a056900002MqZHKAA3?dm_i=50AG,O5TN,957ZD,2X7VO,1 Answering The Call The extraordinary life of Sir Wesley Hall is published by J W McKenzie www.mckenzie-cricket.co.uk Buy from McKenzie Books or Amazon Read the full description here: https://chiswickcalendar.co.uk/episode-107-another-thrilling-spell-from-fast-bowling-legend-wes-hall/ Get in touch with us by emailing obornehellercricket@outlook.com, we would love to hear from you!


Before D’Oliveira – the glories and the shame of England’s Tests against South Africa

In his book Swallows And Hawke, co-written with past podcast guest André Odendaal, the historian Richard Parry gives a uniquely penetrating account of England’s first eighty years of cricket relations with South Africa, ended by the D’Oliveira affair. It is full of pulsating cricket matches in exciting locations – but all deeply entwined with racism and imperialism. He is the guest in the latest edition of the cricket-themed podcast by Peter Oborne and Richard Heller. In Peter’s unavoidable absence, Roger Alton takes up the attack. Richard explains that racial segregation in South Africa was firmly established long before formal apartheid and in the earliest days of its representative cricket. One of South Africa’s first captains, William Milton, was secretary to Cecil Rhodes, and responsible for the first major racist legislation in British South Africa. Cricket helped to cement the economic relationships of South Africa with British capital and to normalize for the Empire and the outside world the white-dominated society on which they depended. 2-7 minutes He traces the business interests of the controllers of both countries’ cricket, Lord Harris and Sir Abe Bailey, which turned England – South Africa cricket relations for eighty years into a wholly-owned subsidiary of Consolidated Goldfields. 8-9 minutes On the field, the cricket was memorable. He identifies three phases. The first, before 1900, was started with a pioneering tour led by Aubrey Smith, later a knighted actor and founder of the celebrated Hollywood Cricket Club. The early tours had long, hard and dangerous travel conditions before the arrival of major railways (25-27 minutes) and played largely exhibition matches, often against odds. The second phase after the Boer war saw victories by South Africa’s quartet of bowlers who had mastered the new mystery ball, the googly. These were avenged by 49 wickets in just four Tests by Sydney Barnes. He sets out the playing conditions which the brilliant Barnes demanded for himself – and why he refused to take even more wickets by walking out of the fifth Test. (33-34 minutes) Then for nearly fifty years after the Great War England’s visits produced series which were not settled until the last day of the final Test, in contrast to the many dead Ashes rubbers of the same period. 10-12 minutes Richard tells stories of the great cricket played in these matches, including the epic duel between Barnes and South Africa’s legend, Herbie Taylor, (34-37 minutes) and the so-called timeless Test in 1939, when England’s pursuit of a target of 696 was ended by their need to catch the boat home – or risk being stranded by the impending war. (38-42 minutes) England’s captain in that series, Walter Hammond, had many relationships over a long period with South Africa: one ended in his second marriage. Like other players of his era, he benefited from media silence about his off-field activities. 42-47 minutes England Tests in South Africa attracted huge crowds – almost exclusively white, despite the efforts of campaigners including Gandhi. The few black and coloured spectators at major grounds were herded into special pens, where they showed their feelings by cheering for England. 12-14 minutes And more... Read the full description here: https://chiswickcalendar.co.uk/episode-106-before-doliveira-the-glories-and-the-shame-of-englands-tests-against-south-africa/ Get in contact by emailing obornehellercricket@outlook.com


A select offering from Ed Smith

Ed Smith played cricket for Kent, Middlesex (as captain) and England, was an incisive commentator on Test Match Special and was England’s Chief Selector from 2018 to 2021. In that role, he drew on learning from many different fields as well as those of cricket, as he reveals in his recent polymathic book, Making Decisions. He is the latest guest of Peter Oborne and Richard Heller in their cricket-themed podcast. Ed begins by describing his childhood training for the post of Chief Selector, in role play in the classic game of Owzat. He suggests that selecting is simultaneously highly complex and highly democratic: all cricket-lovers have views, if not votes, and never hesitate to express them. Social media have opened up new and often unusual perspectives on selection and strategy. Current form and a past record in county cricket were once the sole basis of selection of England’s international players, but he and his panel looked at other factors as well. He suggests that the gulf in playing standards has widened between county and international cricket. The dramatic and successful selection of Jofra Archer for the 2019 World Cup was based on IPL evidence. IPL games are not only highly competitive but rich in detailed televised data. He cites some players who made inauspicious starts in international cricket but whose evident quality demanded their retention, especially Jos Buttler in England’s one-day cricket. Selectors face a constant dilemma of when to over-ride data and rely on their personal assessments of players, as Duncan Fletcher had done with Marcus Trescothick and Michael Vaughan. Decision-makers who always play safe and follow conventional wisdom never add value to the decision process – and not only in cricket. Although cricket has no transfer market, like football and other sports, it is still imperative for selectors to find undervalued players (by reputation) and offload overvalued ones. He cites the guidance of the conservative philosopher Michael Oakeshott on how to choose among the runners in the Derby and other classic horse races: “there are no precise rules for selecting the winner and some intelligence not supplied by the rules themselves is necessary.” Scientific systems can filter out obvious losers, but human judgement is needed to identify the attributes of a winner. Sam Curran would never have been selected by scientific algorithm: he was picked after a human assessment of his personality and his ability to add variety and enhance team performance. He argues strongly that selection must always aim to create the best possible team from the resources available for the contests ahead. The team’s needs will sometimes entail omitting a fine individual player and giving a long run to players whose figures appear unexceptional: he gives three examples of this by his panel. In T20 cricket it is especially important to get the maximum value from the best batter in a limited span of overs and to surround him or her with the players that contribute the most to achieving this. A strong team culture will overcome the disappointment of the individuals passed over for particular matches and remove their fear of being discarded and forgotten. Read the full description here: https://chiswickcalendar.co.uk/episode-105-a-select-offering-from-ed-smith/ Get in contact by emailing obornehellercricket@outlook.com


From the captains’ table – cricket in two village communities

Two highly successful captains of village cricket teams, Tom Greaves of Reed, Hertfordshire, and Callum Widdows of Horningsham, Wiltshire, are the latest guests of Peter Oborne and Richard Heller in their latest cricket-themed podcast. They share the problems and triumphs of making cricket thrive in local communities – where it belongs. Both were raised in the villages they now captain, but had little exposure to cricket in primary school. At around 12 years old each was inspired by watching the thrilling Ashes series of 2005 on free-to-air television. It led Callum into long practice sessions in his garden trying to imitate Freddie Flintoff, and then into seeking out the under-13 squad in the nearby town of Warminster. After an initially unpromising reception from the coach, this would give him his first experience of captaincy. Cricket had had little appeal for Tom and his younger brother: they thought it a game for posh people. They were golfing tearaways (literally) carving divots from the lovingly tended Reed cricket pitch when practising their golf shots. One happy day the groundsman marched them into the nets and made them practise with bat and ball instead. They were converted to cricket, and the following summer alternated long net sessions with a dash home to watch the 2005 Ashes. Before long Tom was opening the batting for Reed’s under-14s and he has been deeply involved with the club ever since... Read the full description here: https://chiswickcalendar.co.uk/episode-104-from-the-captains-table-cricket-in-two-village-communities/ Get in contact by emailing obornehellercricket@outlook.com


The cricketing car park of Beirut

Fernando Sugath, a Sri Lankan expatriate, has been playing cricket in Lebanon for 25 years, in some extraordinary places and despite some extraordinary obstacles. With Will Dobson, an English expatriate and a bookseller in Beirut, he recently organized the biggest cricket tournament in Lebanon’s turbulent history. They are the guests of Peter Oborne and Richard Heller in their latest cricket-themed podcast. Read the full description here: https://chiswickcalendar.co.uk/episode-103-the-cricketing-car-park-of-beirut/ Get in contact by emailing obornehellercricket@outlook.com


Wendy Wimbush – fifty years of keeping but never settling scores

Wendy Wimbush has given a lifetime of service to cricket. She is best known as the BBC scorer in the 1970s but has also worked in other capacities in other countries and with some of the most famous names in cricket. She is the guest in the latest edition of the cricket-themed podcast by Peter Oborne and Richard Heller. In Peter’s unavoidable absence, Roger Alton takes up the attack. Read the full description here: https://chiswickcalendar.co.uk/episode-102-wendy-wimbush-fifty-years-of-keeping-but-never-settling-scores/ Get in contact by emailing obornehellercricket@outlook.com


Mike Coward - sixty years of great cricket writing

After sixty years’ experience in all forms of media, Mike Coward has become one of the most honoured reporters and analysts of cricket in his native Australia and across the world. He is the guest of Peter Oborne and Richard Heller in their latest cricket-themed podcast. Read the full description here: https://chiswickcalendar.co.uk/episode-101-mike-coward-sixty-years-of-great-cricket-writing/ Get in contact by emailing obornehellercricket@outlook.com


At the wonder house of cricket books

Most of cricket’s history for nearly three hundred years can be found behind a small shopfront in a quiet suburban street in Surrey, forty minutes on the commuter train service from London Waterloo. It is easy to miss on a first visit. The most obvious landmark is the large plastic poodle promoting the dog grooming parlour next door. But a closer inspection shows a handsome carved wooden cricket frieze at the base. Peter Oborne and Richard Heller went there to meet England’s premier cricket bookseller, John McKenzie, the guest in their latest cricket-themed podcast. Read the full description here: https://chiswickcalendar.co.uk/episode-99-at-the-wonder-house-of-cricket-books/


Geoff Boycott celebrates yet another century

Throughout his playing career, Sir Geoffrey Boycott made a habit of celebrating special occasions with a century. It makes him the ideal and appropriate guest for Peter Oborne and Richard Heller on the hundredth recorded edition (according to official statisticians) of their cricket-themed podcast. With him is his new opening partner, Jon Hotten, his collaborator on a revealing, intimate book Being Geoffrey Boycott. Signed copies and two limited editions – celebrating Sir Geoffrey Boycott’s 100th first-class hundred and 108 Test caps, respectively – of Being Geoffrey Boycott are available to buy from thenightwatchman.net. Standard copies are also available to Oborne & Heller on Cricket listeners at the discounted price of £19.99 + p&p when you use coupon code OHBOYCS at the checkout. Read the full description here: https://chiswickcalendar.co.uk/episode-98-high-performance-or-last-performance-campaigner-alan-higham-dissects-the-ecb-review-of-english-cricket/