One Long and Beautiful Summer: A Short Elegy For Red-Ball Cricket

December 10, 2020
One Long and Beautiful Summer: A Short Elegy For Red-Ball Cricket

One of Duncan Hamilton's favourite writers on cricket, EdmundBlunden, wrote how he felt going to watch a game: 'You arriveearly, earlier even than you meant . . . and you feel a littleguilty at the thought of the day you propose to give up to sheerluxury'.Following Neville Cardus's assertion that 'there can be nosummer in this land without cricket', Hamilton plotted the games hewould see in 2019 and write down reflectively on some of thecricket that blessed his own sight. It would be captured in thecontext of the coming season in case subsequent summers and theimminent arrival of The Hundred made that impossible. He wouldwrite in the belief that after this season the game might never bequite the same again.He visits Welbeck Colliery Cricket Club to see Nottinghamshireplay Hampshire at the tiny ground of Sookholme, gifted to the clubby a local philanthropist who takes money on the gate; his villageteam at Menston in Yorkshire; the county ground at Hove; watchesBen Stokes's heroics at Headingley, marvels at Jofra Archer's giftof speed in a Second XI fixture for Sussex against Gloucestershirein front of 74 people and three well-behaved dogs; and realiseswhen he reaches the last afternoon of the final county match of theseason at Taunton, 'How blessed I am to have been born here. How Inever want to live anywhere else. How much I love cricket.'