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Second XI Cricket in its outposts By Tim Wigmore & others

Release date: 15th January, 2015
Publisher: Pitch Publishing

List Price: £12.99
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Several years ago, Steve Menary wrote the excellent Outcasts, a book which from its earliest chapters had the reader thinking about football's international anomalies.

Why, you wondered, can't the Channel Isles or Gibraltar, Greenland or Monaco have their own national side? Menary supplied the answer after "wading through the minefield of FIFA statutes and UEFA avoidance tactics" which led him to conclude that football's identity had become consumed by politics, money and consumerism. No shocks there, then.

Menary spent two years examining football's strange anomalies before producing what he called "a story of the triumph of humanity over despotism, spirit over administrative constriction and the expression of nationality in the purest sense over politically-drawn boundaries."

Football, it seemed, was not as inclusive as its administrators would have us believe. After reading Second XI, however, it would appear that cricket is the exact opposite. For many years, the game’s administrators have actively sought ways of ensuring that cricket became established in what could politely be called sporting outposts. That it is now officially the world’s second-most popular sport suggests they succeeded beyond their wildest dreams.

But why wouldn’t they? Cricket is a great game to play, watch or simply discuss over refreshments afterwards and as a consequence, its international appeal is considerably wider than many people realise.

As with Outcasts, the authors of Second XI focus on players keen to represent their country, regardless of its cricketing history. It almost goes without saying that driven by such desire, would-be international cricketers are prepared to sacrifice precious family time, holidays and their own money in their pursuit of their sporting nirvana.

The story of how the captain of Afghanistan, a man raised in a refugee camp, will play in this year’s World Cup is inspirational. Then there’s the tale of how a group of committed Irishmen retain their dream of one day achieving Test status and ending the drain of indigenous players to England. From the UAE to Kenya, Holland to the USA, cricket is alive and well; indeed, there’s even talk of China one day fielding a team.

English cricket has suffered as a result of being absent from terrestrial television. Reading this book will, however, rekindle a love for what many are missing.


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