Remarkable Village Cricket Grounds by Brian Levison (Pavilion £25) ****

THE stumps are drawn for another season. The pavilion is locked and (probably these days) shuttered. But as Herbert Farjeon, one of cricket’s gentlest scribes, poetically observed: “Memory will play again, / many and many a day again, / the game that’s done, the game that’s never done.”

And here, to enrich that memory until the umpires again call “Play”, the greatest word in the game, are two splendid but contrasting books devoted to the summer game.

Pitched unerringly at the coffee-table, Remarkable Village Cricket Grounds gloriously showcases the game in its timeless-rural-idyll form. Every player wears whites and, except for a rude awakening with the final ground featured, Winnington Park, at Northwich, Cheshire, overshadowed by a chemical plant that makes the former ICI Wilton seem positively delicate, backgrounds are invariably green and pleasant. Oaks predominate, framing views enfolding church spires, country houses and medieval castles.

Among the latter is Raby, its eponymous cricket ground one of almost 100 grounds profiled in words (succinct) and pictures (lavish). The book is next-in after the author’s Remarkable Cricket Grounds, shortlisted last year for both Sports Book of the Year and Cricket Book of the Year. International in scope, that volume’s star turned proved to be Spout House, in Bilsdale, the grass roots of the grass roots, whose unmown field slopes so steeply that the wicket, cut into the hillside, is invisible from the bottom boundary.

Spout is here again, gloriously rustic, and other North Yorkshire and North-East clubs featured are Kildale, Castleton, Hovingham, Bamburgh and Warkworth. Mike Amos aided the author in his research, which should guarantee strong sales hereabouts.

Who’s Who of the Yorkshire County Cricket Club compiled by Paul Dyson (Great Northern Books £19.99) ****

AMID all the imperishable derring-do of Yorkshire county cricket there can be few performances more memorable than the following: Yorkshire 143-9 v Warwickshire at Edgbaston. No 1 Geoff Boycott still at the crease. Enter No 11, Graham Stevenson. The pair put on 149, Yorkshire’s record tenth-wicket stand. Last man’s share - 115 not out.

The eye-rubbing feat is recorded in this well-presented A-Z of Yorkshire county cricketers up to the end of the 2017 season. Of Stevenson it reveals that that after leaving the game in 1988 he “suffered much from ill health and died at the early age of 58.”

Boycott, of course, is still with us. Seemingly centred chiefly on the controversies that often surrounded him, his entry does not do justice to his cricket. And he doesn’t find a place among the ten Yorkshire alumni honoured with a place on the dust jacket. But then again, neither does Len Hutton.

Briefly, Dyson also profiles another player who “courted controversy”: Cecil Parkin. Though Dyson doesn’t say so, Neville Cardus celebrated him as “the card.” Fond of buffoonery he enjoyed joking with the wicket keeper and fielders – reverse, benign sledging. He teased them with fake running and the crowd dubbed him “the Artful Dodger”. But undoubtedly his best joke was that, as Dyson records, he never should have played for Yorkshire. Shortly after his debut in 1906 it was revealed he had been born 20 yards north of the border – across the Tees at Eaglescliffe.

Indispensable as a record, this book is also a pleasure to handle and dip into.

Strike's latest investigation


Lethal White by Robert Gailbraith (Sphere, £20; ebook £9.99) *****

THE fourth novel in The Cormoran Strike series, under JK Rowling's Robert Galbraith pseudonym, picks up where Career Of Evil left off - Robin's wedding to the infuriating Matthew. As always with Rowling's writing, the plot is bursting with vivid characters and unnerving plot twists. Set throughout the summer of 2012 in London, two gruesome mysteries are entwined in Strike's latest investigation. Delving into the corridors of Parliament, Strike and Robin follow twists and turns on a journey that meets a myriad complex characters, including corrupt politicians, political activists and an aristocratic family who all have ridiculous public-school nicknames. Unlike the previous three novels, the main plot in Lethal White is a pretty slow burn. But the fourth instalment does give us more details of Strike and Robin's personal lives, which only add to the captivating storytelling.

Rebecca Wilcock

Running Upon The Wires by Kate Tempest (Picador, £6.75; ebook £6.49) *****

LONDONER Kate Tempest is well known as a performance poet, and her boundary-crossing work so far has seen her both nominated for a Costa Book Award and the Mercury Music Prize. Running Upon The Wires, however, is poetry designed to stand alone and its theme turns from the wider world towards the personal, charting the journey from the end of one relationship to the beginning of another. Most of all, though, it deals with the grey area of mixed feelings that lies in between, or overlaps 'the end' and 'the beginning'. Tempest's distinctive voice is still here, in the urgent rhythms, unexpected shifts of tone and pace, emotional intensity and well-observed images - "Forget that your heart is a piece of brown meat/Feel nothing but love for those that have love" - but reading from the page, without accompaniment, allows her wordcraft to shine.

Lucy Whetman

Kill 'Em All by John Niven (William Heinemann, £16.99; ebook £9.99) *****

IN every alcove within the British arts scene, shock value pervades. The potter in drag. The Turner Prize nominee stained with bodily fluids. So too the relentless vulgarity that reeks on almost every page of Kill 'Em All, the triumphant sequel to former A&R man John Niven's groundbreaking expose of the Britpop scene in Kill Your Friends. This time, the stinking rich pop impresario Steven Stelfox is parachuted in to mastermind an on-the-wane star's money spinning comeback tour. A tough gig until a revelation that threatens to sink both monkey and organ grinder (Stelfox). The tale is full of cultural signposts that make it 'of the time' - the chance meeting with President Trump is particularly enjoyable. But Niven has skillfully mastered splicing themes of vanity, excess and nihilisim with laugh-out-loud humour. Suspend your disbelief and gorge on this. Don't stop til you get enough.

Ryan Hooper



1. Lethal White by Robert Galbraith

2. Together: Our Community Cookbook

3. Vietnam: An Epic Tragedy by Sir Max Hastings

4. The Spy And The Traitor by Ben Macintyre

5. Jamie Cooks Italy by Jamie Oliver

6. The Clockmaker's Daughter by Kate Morton

7. Erebus by Michael Palin

8. Fear: Trump In The Whitehouse by Bob Woodward

9. Guinness World Records

10. The Fox by Frederick Forsyth