Wednesday, June 2, 2010

Out now in Paperback: The Wisden Cricketer, Flying Stumps and Metal Bats.

Since 2003 the Wisden Cricketer has run a monthly feature called ‘Eyewitness’. Each article takes a seminal moment in the history of cricket and invites the key protagonists to reminisce about it, relive it and reflect. Now for the first time the very best of ‘Eyewitness’ has been collected in one volume. The result is a fascinating tour of cricket’s most memorable moments, as told by the very people who were there and who made them happen.
Here is everything from David Steele’s remarkable Test summer of 1975 to Brian Lara’s awe-inspiring first season with Warwickshire; from the Packer Revolution to Michael Holding kicking down John Parker’s stumps during West Indies’ ill-tempered 1979 tour of New Zealand; from the day the incongruous clang of Dennis Lillee’s aluminium bat first rang out across a cricket field to Essex bowling Surrey out for 14 and ‘weak Victorian’ Dean Jones being hospitalised after his 210 slog in the 40° heat of Madras.
Above all, every story is told in the words of the cricketers, reporters and bystanders who witnessed them. Like Graham Gooch reliving his magnificent triple century against India. Or Lancashire all-rounder David Hughes describing darkness fall over Old Trafford as he plundered 24 off John Mortimore at the end of an astonishing 1971 Gillette Cup semi-final.
Whether re-awakening memories of past glories or opening old wounds, Flying Stumps and Metal Bats is a unique oral history and the perfect gift for any fan of the endlessly unpredictable, ever controversial game that is cricket.

The Wisden Cricketer is the world’s highest-selling monthly cricket magazine. Launched in 2003, it was the result of a merger between Wisden Cricket Monthly and the Cricketer.

Out now in Paperback: Original Rudeboy, from Borstal to The Specials

1979. The dawn of Thatcher’s Britain. It’s a country crippled by strikes, joblessness and economic gloom, divided by race and class - and skanking to a new beat: 2-Tone.
The unruly offspring of white boy punk and rude boy ska, the new music’s undeniable leaders were The Specials. Bursting out of Coventry’s concrete jungle, their lyrics spoke of failed marriages, petty violence, crowded dance floors, gangsters and race hate - but with a wit that outshone their angry punk forebears.
On stage they were electric, and at the heart of this energy was the vocal chemistry of the ethereal Terry Hall and Jamaican rude boy Neville Staple.
In 1961, aged only five, Neville was sent to England to live with his father – a man for whom discipline bordered on child abuse. Growing up black in the Midlands of the Sixties and Seventies wasn’t easy, but then Nev was hardly an angel. His youth was marked by scuffles with skins, compulsive womanising, and a life of crime that led from shoplifting to burglary and eventually Borstal and Wormwood Scrubs.
But throughout there was music, and now Nev tells how a very bad boy became part of the most important band of the Eighties. He remembers sound system battles; the legendary 2-Tone tour with The Selecter, Madness and Dexy’s – and their clashes with NF thugs. He recalls the band’s increasing tensions and eventual split; his subsequent foray into bubblegum pop with Fun Boy Three; and a new found fame in America, as godfather to bands like Gwen Stefani’s No Doubt. Finally he reflects on The Specials’ reunion and how even now, thirty years on, they can’t help tearing themselves apart.
Raucous and charming Original Rude Boy is the story of a man who done too much, much too young.

Neville Staple was a frontman with The Specials, a member of the hugely successful pop trio Fun Boy Three and now tours the world with own his own ska act The Neville Staple Band. Visit him at:

Tony McMahon is a journalist and TV producer living in south London.

Out now in Paperback: Inside the Box

‘The producer – for the last thirty-four years – was Peter Baxter’
Studio announcer Andy Rushton signs off Peter Baxter’s final show, June 2007

Since its first live broadcast in 1957, Test Match Special had become synonymous with British summertime, proudly fulfilling its slogan ‘Don’t miss a ball, we broadcast them all’. Peter Baxter has been at the show’s heart for most of its history, and now for the first time shares his best moments and most memorable characters from his privileged position inside the TMS commentary box.

Having worked alongside TMS greats John Arlott, Brian Johnston, Henry Blofeld and Jonathan Agnew, no one is better qualified than Peter Baxter to celebrate thirty years of cricket in this fascinating, funny and personal account of a sporting and broadcasting institution.

Out now in Paperback: The North Will Rise Again

‘An extraordinary history… The range of voices breathing new life into past events is vast’ **** Mojo

‘The Morrissey and Marr recollections are particularly revealing’ The Word

Buzzcocks. Joy Division. The Fall. The Smiths. The Stone Roses. Happy Mondays. Oasis. Manchester has proved to be endlessly rich of musical talent over the last 30 years.

Highly opinionated and usually controversial, stars such as Mark E. Smith, Morrissey, Ian Brown and the Gallagher brothers have always had plenty to say for themselves. Here, in John Robb’s new compilation, Manchester’s musicians tell the story of the city’s thriving music scene in their own words.

From the fury of punk to the raucousness of Britpop, Manchester has been at the heart of musical innovation. The revolution began with the Buzzcocks at Lesser Free Trade Hall in 1976; the city’s own record label, Factory, gave the world Joy Division, New Order and Happy Mondays. There was the cerebral genius of The Smiths, and the rivalry between The Stone Roses and Oasis to headline the most massive gig.

Now, in dozens of new interviews with Manchester’s proudest sons, from Morrissey to Ian Brown, John Robb tells the story of the city’s unique music scene.

John Robb is a leading music journalist and the author of the bestselling biography of the Stone Roses. His other books include Punk: An Oral History, The Charlatans … We Are Rock and The Nineties: What the F**k Was That All About? He lives in Manchester.