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The Great Romantic: Cricket and the Golden Age of Neville Cardus by Duncan Hamilton
The Great Romantic: Cricket and the Golden Age of Neville Cardus
by Duncan Hamilton

Published by Hodder & Stoughton - An Hachette UK Company

Paperback edition published in July 2020

ISBN 9781473661851

Pages 370

Price Sterling pounds 9.99


Neville Cardus is the subject matter of this superbly crafted book. A classy biography of the best of all cricket writers with a golden pen.

Thoroughly researched and evocatively written, this biography confirms Duncan Hamilton's reputation as one of the finest sportswriters of our time. He casts a new light on the enigmatic character and immense achievements of a remarkable all-rounder.

Yet the life of the man venerated for his exquisite phrase-making and penchant for literary and musical allusions was anything but conventional. His mother was a prostitute, he never knew his father and he received little education. Infatuations with younger women ran parallel to a decidedly unromntic marriage, and the supreme stylist's aversion to factual accuracy led to his once reporting on a match he didn't attend. But despite his impoverished origins, Cardus also prospered in another class-conscious profession, becoming a music critic of international renown.

As a journalist, Duncan Hamilton has won three William Hill Sports Book of the Year prizes and has been nominated on a further four occasions. He has also claimed two British Sports Book Awards and is the only writer to have won the Wisden Cricket Book of the Year on three occasions.

First published in Great Britain in 2019, the book got excellent reviews from Daily Mail: "It is hard to imagine that he will write a better book than this." While reviewing The Times commented: "Hamilton is a worthy biographer...A beautiful biography. Ten years after his fine biography of Harold Larwood, this is just as good, as much sublime writing comes from his keyboard as from Cardus's pen."

Guardin reviewed it as: "With its verve, insight and generosity of sympathy, this is by some way the best full-length life of a cricket writer, perhaps even of any sportswriter."

The book informs us Don Bradman considered Cardus to be an 'eccentric genius'. He was a 'great admirer' of his writing and 'proud' to consider him as 'a friend'. Cardus rated Walter Hammond as the 'magnificent Rolls Royce' of batting. He could close his eyes, he said, 'and all the bloom and power' of his stroke-making came flooding into his mind. Sydney belonged to Hammond. He made an unbeaten 231 with the help of 27 fours in a total of 426 for six wickets declared in December 1936 - a Test won by England by an innings and 22 runs.

In the chapter, namely, The Birthday Party, the cricket enthusiasts are informed that Neville Cardus's friendship with Bradman had spanned 18 years. Cardus still described him as 'an enigma', a man he found 'hard, really, to get to know'. It was also hard to 'get him to realise that you really liked him', he added. Bradman must have known all the same. Whenever he went to Australia, Cardus was guaranteed one invitation. 'A welcome at the Bradman home,' he said.

The Sunday Times' best seller and winner of the William Hill Sports Book of the Year 2019, the book has also been shortlisted for the Telegraph Cricket Book of the Year 2020 and The Cricket Society and MCC Book of the Year 2020.