BOOK REVIEW: All Wickets Great and Small by John Fuller

All Wickets Great and SmallSubtitled “In Search of Yorkshire’s Grassroots Cricket”, journalist John Fuller’s first cricket book is a gentle meander through the hills and dales of the amatuer game in Fuller’s home county of Yorkshire.

During the summer of 2015, Fuller embarked upon something of a cricketing pilgrimage, visiting thirty-odd of the 778 registered clubs in the White Rose County, in an attempt to rediscover the soul of the game.

The result is this series of tales, typically beginning with a train journey, then a short walk to a ground great or small, at which tea is drunk for the love of tea, cake eaten for the love of cake, and cricket played for the love of cricket.

Given the title at the top of this site, it bears stating that this is not a book about “women’s” cricket – there is but a single chapter focussed on the women’s game, centered on a chilly County Championship clash between Middlesex and Yorkshire at Harrogate. (It is nonetheless a very interesting chapter, however, especially for one inside the game to see it from the perspective of the outsider.)

In fact, in some ways, this is not a book about cricket at all, but about the places where cricket is played. The evocative descriptions which will live with you long after you turn the final page, are not of cover drives or turning deliveries, but of red-brick pavilions, iron gates and wooden benches; the fading facades of the once-great Park Avenue in Bradford, where Don Bradman hit but a single run as Yorkshire took on the touring Australians in 1930; or the modern pavilion at Thirsk, close-by to where Thomas Lord (or “Lords” fame) was born, blending into the nearby racecourse “like an outbuilding containing horse feed or a stretched residential bungalow.”

All Wickets Great and Small is not a joyful book – but if a sense of melancholy pervades, it might only be because, in so many ways, the game of which Fuller goes in search, sadly really has seen better days. It is nevertheless, a book written with love and honesty, which is worthy of its place on any cricketing bookshelf.