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23. 8. 2011

Mike Atherton - Opening Up

      Here's another one for my howzat tag, an autobiography of Mike Atherton, the former England cricket team captain. Feel free to scroll on.
      Athers' autobiography maybe isn't all an autobiography should be, or at least I certainly wouldn't make that claim, but it definitely is just what you'd expect a famous sportsman's autobiography to be. Well, what you'd expect it to be if you're a sensible person and don't care about when and with whom he slept or what does his gardener like for dinner on Sundays. (Yes, I still haven't forgotten how rubbish you were, last biography I read.)
      The book is simple, honest, on topic. And with lots of pictures. Although if I formed my opinion on the basis of the book only, I would maybe imagine a slightly different person. But just you turn on Sky when a Test is scheduled to start and there he is, interviewing the skippers at the toss, part of the media he apparently hated so much in his time as captain. From the book he comes across as quite a cool, logic person, someone who keeps to himself and is prone to over-analyze his own performance. On TV though, he seems quite cheery and somehow more present. But I can see how not having that responsibility and difficult decisions to make would make you more carefree and make it easier to laugh when questioning those who have that responsibility now.
      The book briefly recounts Athers' childhood and introduction to the game through the university team and then concentrates on his time in the England and Lancashire teams in the 90s. Obviously, the players he talks about don't play anymore but a lot of them now work as coaches or commentators and it's interesting to try and connect the players he describes with the people now passing judgment over a cake on TMS.
      What I also found interesting was reading about his take on the dirt-in-pocket-gate or problems Atherton had to face as captain when dealing with the selectors. It's hard for me to even imagine a time without central contracts and the selection being such a mess. (Actually, that's not true. I can imagine the selection being a mess. Hello, Australia!)
      Of course, who knows how truthful this all is. And I always get suspicious - who really remembers things in this much detail? Things from 20 years ago? Even with a diary.
      Overall I'd say that the book has some interesting bits, well paints some players' portraits and quirks and doesn't get overly nostalgic, which is good. But at times, it can also get a little dull, simply chronologically describing the events. Like ball-by-ball coverage - informative, but you wouldn't want a whole book of it, right?
      But then again, I generally only stomach (auto)biographies in small, infrequent doses...

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