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Britain's lost cricket grounds By Chris Arnot

Release date: 01st January, 2012
Publisher: Aurum Publishing

List Price: 25.00
Our Price: 13.99
You Save: 11.01 (44%)
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After a slow start, there have been several encouraging aspects of England's current 'swing through the Gulf': Alistair Cook's centuries, Kevin Pietersen's return to form, but there has also been a hugely disappointing one too.

This has nothing to do with England or its cricketers, but the unfounded optimism of the tour's organisers. Watching international cricket played in front of vast, empty stadia in Dubai and Abu Dhabi detracts significantly from the experience and harms the tour's status.

The same could rarely be said when cricket was played at venues such as Nottingham's John Player ground, Burton's Bass ground, or at Newport CC, Stroud or the magnificent Edale ground in the Peak District. Yet these historic, picturesque and quintessentially British venues have been swept away, replaced mostly by either anodyne shopping centres or row upon repetitive row of houses.

There was a time when the local cricket ground was an integral part of town and city alike. Reserved exclusively for summer usage, they were a source of great civic pride and always beautifully prepared for the visit of first class county teams. Alas, this 'old-fashioned' approach to sport has been supplanted, without much thought given to what replaces it.

The scale of Chris Arnot's meticulous research is apparent on every page of this outstanding book. In many respects, it's more than a series of thoughtful essays on disappearing cricket grounds, but a well-considered social history, describing a way of life that has vanished within the space of a generation.

In addition, the splendid photography evokes a wistful sense of togetherness and enjoyment, of crowds across the land enthralled by what they saw. How was this marvellously inclusive aspect of cricket cast aside?

The answer is straight forward. None of these venues exist any longer primarily because land ownership gradually changed and the grounds were 'developed' and put to 'better' use. This, of course, is a matter of opinion.

Cricket fans of a certain age will love this book, but anyone with an interest in sporting history should read it too for they may be able to identify part of the reason why Britain has become a less civil, less inclusive place over the past forty years.


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