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For all the glamour and new-found wealth that has come to cricket thanks to the IPL, the sport has rarely faced such an uncertain future. The gold standard of cricket - Test matches - is being sidelined in some countries by the shorter forms of the game. While the sport is being transformed, administrators are struggling to keep pace with it all. Yet, despite all of this, the sport's essential elements remain in place: great games are played, new stars rise up and old stars step back and retire. In this new collection of writing, Gideon Haigh takes the pulse of the game today, and in particular looks at the decline of the sport in Australia, where the once all-conquering men in the 'baggy green' suddenly found themselves struggling to impose themselves on their opponents.
It is arguably the most famous photograph in the history of cricket. In George Beldam's picture, Victor Trumper is caught in mid stroke, the personification of cricketing grace, skill and power, about to hit the ball long and hard. Yet this image, 'Jumping Out', is important not only because of who it depicts, but also what it illustrates about the changing nature of the game and how it has been seen. Now, in Gideon Haigh's brilliant new book, Stroke of Genius, we learn not only about the man in the picture but also the iconography of Trumper's powerful position in cricket's mythology. For many, Australian batsman Trumper was the greatest ever. Neville Cardus wrote: 'I have never yet met a cricketer who, having seen and played with Victor Trumper, did not describe him without doubt or hesitation as the most accomplished of all batsmen of his acquaintance.' Like Lionel Messi or Roger Federer today, he defied the obvious bounds of affiliation. Unlike the current generation of sporting stars, however, there were no memoirs or papers, very few interviews, no action footage - even his date of birth is a matter of debate and conjecture. What isn't in doubt, though, is the impact he had on the game and on his nation. Haigh reveals how Trumper, and 'Jumping Out', helped to change cricket from the Victorian era of static imagery to something much more dynamic, modern and compelling. As such, Trumper helped not only transform cricket but even the way his country viewed itself.
'Does cricket make money in order to exist, or does it exist in order to make money?' In the last three years, cricket has changed more completely than in the preceding three decades, revolutionised by a racy new format, Twenty20, and a glamorous new competition, the Indian Premier League. How did India come to run world cricket? How did clubs owned by billionaires and Bollywood stars begin to shove international competition aside? How did money unite players and divide administrators, amid allegations of massive corruption? Gideon Haigh has followed cricket's biggest story since Kerry Packer's 'World Series' from the beginning: Sphere of Influence is the result. This insightful collection brings the struggle to save cricket's soul into sharp and disturbing focus.
Who doesn't know the name Shane Warne? The Australian cricketer dominated airwaves and headlines for twenty years, and has finally become a full-time celebrity and media event, his sporting conquests and controversies receding steadily into the past. But what was it like to be there, watching Warne at his long peak, the man of a thousand international wickets, the incarnation of Australian audacity and cheek? Leading cricket writer Gideon Haigh lived the Warne era behind the scenes, when the impossible was everyday, and the sensational every other day. In On Warne, he relives the era's highs, its lows, its fun and its follies. Drawing on interviews conducted with Warne over the course of a decade, and two decades of watching him play, Haigh assesses this greatest of sportsmen as cricketer, character, comrade, newsmaker and international figure - a natural in an increasingly regimented time, a simplifier in a growingly complicated world. The result is one of the finest cricket books ever written, a whole new way of looking at its subject, at sport, and at Australia. Gideon Haigh is one of the world's best-known cricket writers. He has been a journalist for almost 30 years, writing about sport and business, and has contributed to more than 100 newspapers and magazines. His cricket writings were collected in the 2011 book Sphere of Influence. He lives in Melbourne.
For the first time since the mid-1970s, England and Australia faced each other home and away in back-to-back series in the summer and winter of 2013. Under prolific captain Alastair Cook, England went into the Ashes on the back of three unbeaten series, including a first win in India for more than 25 years. By contrast, Michael Clarke's Australia arrived in England with an inexperienced side, changing their coach just weeks before the Ashes started. No wonder England started as strong favourites. And so it proved, as England won the home series by a 3-0 margin - their biggest Ashes win since the 1970s. But there were signs of an Australian revival in their defeat, and when England arrived Down Under, they found an entire nation ready to make things different, as the underdogs fought back. Suddenly, Australia were the better side in every aspect of the game, and they won back the Ashes after three consecutive crushing victories. Watching on as events unfolded was award-winning cricket writer Gideon Haigh. With great insight and skill, he reveals the key moments of both series, analysing the personalities of the players and how they coped with the most pressurised and high-profile cricketing contest of them all: the Ashes. No other book on the subject comes close to this one in getting to the heart of the matter.
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