“How blessed I am to have been born here. How I never want to live anywhere else. How much I love cricket”
This for me is the essence of this book, a book so beautifully constructed that I know I’m not qualified to review it from any other viewpoint than my own personal enjoyment. Then again, I bought this book for the same reason that I created Inside Edge Cricket, because I wholeheartedly agree with that quote at the top of the page, I love cricket.
‘One long and beautiful summer’ doesn’t have a start, a middle or an end. It’s not a chronological journey through the 2019 summer, it’s not about the facts and the figures, the stats, I don’t even think its about the players. It’s about how cricket makes you feel, it’s about what it means to you, the smell of the cut grass, the conversations you have during a rain delay, the people you meet and the things you see.
Hamilton’s style is warm and comforting, his writing makes you feel as though he’s talking directly to you, it’s approachable and rewarding if you’re willing to put the time and effort in. It’s not a book to read sporadically, to do that would be to dent your own enjoyment and do the author a disservice. It’s a book to prepare for, grad a glass of wine or a cup of tea and make sure you have a couple of hours spare to really melt into the pages.
I’m envious of Duncan, I just don’t know how he manages to visit all these incredible places, often at the drop of a hat. He explains in the end that sports act as a form of escapism, allowing us to put off the more mundane tasks for the pleasure of a day in the sun, listening to the gratifying whack of leather on willow, and that has never been more relevant than it is today.
We’re living in a short-format world, and I enjoy an ODI or a T20 as much as the next fan, but there is something about the history of the red-ball first-class game that enraptures me in a way that white-ball cricket never will. Duncan’s book is a love-letter to the beautiful first-class game in this country, and it’s so quintessentially English, yet it’s the complete opposite to what you’d consider “stuffy”, it’s approachable for the new cricket fan, or the lifelong county stalwart.
When Hamilton describes the grounds he’s had the pleasure of visiting, he doesn’t just describe the pitch. He explores the scoreboard, the pavilion, the stands, the surrounding area and how it feels to be a spectator, not for the match, but in the ground, he writes so descriptively that you can almost convince yourself that you were part of the experience if you’d never been within 150 miles of Scarborough or Arundal.
‘One long and beautiful summer’ will take pride of place on my bookshelf, and I know that it’s a good that I will return to time and again, and I’m sure it will inspire me to take to the roads in search of the satisfaction that Hamilton so perfectly describes.