RAJESH KUMAR - Cricket Statisticians
Summer's Crown
Summer's Crown - The story of Cricket's County Championship
by Stephen Chalke

Publisher: Fairfield Books
17, George's Road, Bath BA1 6EY, England

Published in 2015

ISBN 978 0 956851154

Pages 352

Price Sterling Pounds Twenty only

Sponsored by the England and Wales Cricket Board, this well-designed and attractively produced book is worth acquiring and celebrates 125 years of cricket's county championship: the memorable matches, the great teams and players from WG Grace facing the first ball in May 1890 to Joe Root leading out the triumphant Yorkshire team in September 2014.

This publication has won the Cricket Writers Club Book of the Year award for 2015. Chalke's first book, Runs in the Memory - County Cricket in the 1950s. released in 1997, was endorsed by Frank Keating as the Sports Book of the Year. Four of his titles have won Cricket Book of the Year awards: two from Wisden, one from the Cricket Society and one from the National Sporting Club.

Later, his biography of Geoffrey Howard, released in 2001, won the Cricket Society Book of the Year Award. No Coward Soul, released in 2013, the superb life-story of Bob Appleyard, was awarded the Wisden Book of the Year, as was The Flame Still Burns, his 2007 book on Tom Cartwright. A year later in 2008, The Way It Was Won the National Sporting Club Cricket Book of the Year.

Stephen Chalke's book begins with a spread on each county. "They are, if you like, the dramatis personae. Then the body of the book is given to the history, which is presented in decades and which spotlights special players and teams, entertaining stories, fascinating images and some broader themes. Finally, there is an appendix, a mixture of fact, analysis, ancillary information and quirky stories."

The statistics, meticulously compiled, coupling relevant facts from the decades and years in question, are the highlights of this outstanding publication.

The book informs us that there are eighteen instances of counties remaining unbeaten in a season. There are four instances of counties winning more than 20 games in a season, with Yorkshire's tally of 25 in 1923 the greatest. As regards consecutive championships, Surrey stand supreme, with seven successive championships between 1952 and 1958.

Beautifully written and well organised, the book is highly recommended to every age group wholeheartedly. If you are fifty-plus to have lived up through some of the county history that Stephen Chalke describes, you will definitely enjoy reliving the cricketing decades of your youth. Many have doubted its viability, calling for fewer teams, fewer matches, even a switch to city-based sides, but somehow the championship has survived, reinventing itself regularly to meet the needs of each age.

An excellent publication in all respects, with superb photographs, Summer's Crown is a must for every cricket enthusiast, interested in England's County Championship.