“Following On: A Memoir of Teenage Obsession and Terrible Cricket” by Emma John
Publisher: Bloomsbury Publishing PLC ISBN: 9781472916877
Review by Ben " Chalky " White
This book could have been about me, or indeed written by me. It’s not and it wasn’t. Instead it’s by a female cricket author and there aren’t many of those! It’s a witty nostalgic look back at one of the worst periods of English cricket – the 1990s. You know when we hardly beat anyone apart from Zimbabwe…..oh wait. We didn’t even beat them! But for Emma (and me) this was a time of finding cricket, finding heroes and actually falling in love with the game. Posters on the wall of “legends” such as John Crawley, Alan Mullally and Andy Caddick. They all tried hard for England’s cause but sadly the opposition at that time were just a bit better.
It is well written, funny and at times a little sad, but always bittersweet. The author managed to speak to a number of 90s cricketers about their playing days, their regrets and of course their minor successes. It’s genuinely one of the best books I’ve read about cricket for some time. Well worth it.
It has also just been shortlisted for 2017 Cricket Society and MCC Book of the Year Award.
9 Chalk Marks
As a teenager, Emma John fell deeply in love. Nothing unusual there I agree, but the object of her affection was somewhat more unorthodox. The England cricket team of the '90s is not heralded as a wonderful evocation of all that is great about the game, but Emma fell head over bails for Athers, Tuffers et al. In this wonderfully witty and engaging book, Johns examines the appeal of glorious draws snatched from the jaws of defeat and the victories that seemed to offer hope only to be proved false dawns yet again. Her interviews with many of the protagonists (Stewart, Thorpe, Russell, Ramprakash to name just a few) are informative and offer an excellent insight into the team dynamics. Andy Caddick is a particularly interesting character. Following On is a great read and comparisons to books like Fever Pitch or Boys of Summer, which also tells of childhood sporting infatuations, seem inevitable. A thoroughly enjoyable and well-written book. You'll be hooked from the 1st page!
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