#360reviews: Second XI – Cricket In Its Outposts

Barnaby Read 15:16 30/05/2015
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At a time when the ICC’s plans to banish associate members into cricketing wilderness have gained significant attention, an examination of the affiliates and their future is both apt and much needed.

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Cricket’s governing body is aiming to reduce the presence of its less illustrious national teams at the 2019 World Cup, making it even trickier for the likes of the UAE to return to the sport’s greatest stage.

Many feel that making the tournament a 10-team competition will see the crater grow even greater between the Test playing nations and their smaller siblings.

Tim Wigmore, Peter Miller, Gideon Haigh, Sahil Dutta and Tim Brooks have taken a look at those nations and the challenges they have faced and continue to face in Second XI – Cricket in its outposts.

Not only does this book trawl through the remarkable histories of Afghanistan, Nepal, Ireland, UAE, Papua New Guinea, China, Scotland, Netherlands, Kenya and USA, but it also looks at how these national teams have shaped the wider cricketing world.

And it does so by drawing on the experiences of those closest to the history of cricket in those countries.

Just a quick look at Miller’s acknowledgments for the UAE chapter substantiates this with the likes of ECB chairman David East, UAE coach Aaqib Javed, the ICC Academy’s Will Kitchen and The National’s Paul Radley all helping to contribute to the pages on cricket in the Emirates.

As a result, Second XI tells a story about the sport that is largely unheard outside of the big nations.

And these are stories that should not be missed.

From the Irish roots of the game being well established and then disregarded due to their English connotations, through Afghanistan’s sport at war and on to the UAE’s 1996 World Cup captain Sultan Zarawani facing up to Allan Donald in his prime in nothing but a sunhat (and then being suitably bumped on the bonce by a bouncer).

Highly entertaining, superbly informed and never more relevant, this book is needed for the growth of cricket outside of its elite.

Second XI also ticks all the boxes if you are interested in the far reach of sport, cricket and the countries that tend to be neglected.

With Haigh, Miller, Wigmore, Dutta and Brooks, you are in safe hands as a reader.

Nothing is left to chance and you feel no stone has been left unturned in the pursuit of a balanced collection.

VERDICT – 8/10

A superb look at cricket that lives largely in the shadows. The expertise of its authors and contributors makes this a must-read for cricket fans and those that hail from the countries involved, but more so for those that don’t. Expand those horizons (and you, the ICC!).

COST – Dhs44

WHERE TO BUY – Amazon.com

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