This is the first in a series of book and DVD reviews that will be appearing on the blog over the coming months. The topic of this review is not one specific book, but rather an author in general; Gideon Haigh.
There are writers and there are authors. A writer is someone who can put words on a page and manage to convey the appropriate meaning to the reader. However, it is an author can then bring these words to life, and make them dance around inside your head. There are many successful writers in the world, but not many great authors. The sporting world is lucky that Gideon Haigh uses cricket as one of his mediums. Haigh is undoubtedly an author of the highest quality, but importantly for us, he is an author that choses to write about cricket. There are many journalists who can write about cricket, but very few authors who do so.
Haigh has written 17 and edited 6 books about sport, business and general interest over the past two decades. He has written extensively for major newspapers including the Financial Times, Australian Financial Review, the Age and most major Australian broadsheets. His books include both analyses of business (The Battle for BHP, One of a Kind: The Story of Bankers Trust Australia, and Bad Company: The Strange Cult of The CEO) and cricket (The Big Ship : The Warwick Armstrong Story, The Cricket War: The Inside Story of Kerry Packer's World Series, and Mystery Spinner: The Story of Jack Iverson). He has also edited many books, including the Australian Wisden Almanack and Endless Summer: 140 Years Of Australian Cricket in Wisden Cricketers’ Almanack. Haigh’s most recent book, The (Green and) Golden Age is a collection of his essays from the past decade.
Haigh is able, through clever turn of phrase, to successfully review events and turn the mundane into the interesting. His analysis of the 2005 and 2006/07 Ashes series are essential reading for fans of Australia England cricket. A small criticism of his work is that at times Haigh appears almost too verbose, but never to the extent of being pretentious. This issue is a minor one, as it does not distract the reader from their task, and is perhaps a demonstration of his mastery of the English language.
My favourite Haigh book is The Big Ship, a biography of the Australian test captain Warwick Armstrong. If you have not read any of his books, I would encourage you to track them down. Haigh is undoubtedly the pre-eminent Australia cricket author at the moment, and stands highly in comparison with any from around the world. I must finish this review with a disclaimer; I have had personal correspondence with Gideon in the past and was immensely impressed with not just his encyclopaedic knowledge of cricket, but also his genuine decency as a human being.