RAJESH KUMAR - Cricket Statisticians
Disappearing World - Our 18 First-Class Cricket Counties

Disappearing World - Our 18 First-Class Cricket Counties
by Scyld Berry

Published by
Pitch Publishing,
9, Donnington Park,
85, Birdham Road,
Chichester, West Sussex,
PO20 7AJ, UK

Email: info@pitchpublishing.co.uk

ISBN: 978 1 80150 554 3

Pages: 288

Price: Sterling Pounds 19.99

Disappearing World by award-winning cricket writer, Scyld Berry, is a heartfelt celebration of what county cricket has been for more than a hundred years - an integral part of English life. Threatened by the growth of T20 franchise tournaments and by the governing body's move to cut the championship to ten games a season, county cricket will only survive if it is fully appreciated.

This is a fascinating book, having excellent photographs and pleasantly produced.

Cricket enthusiasts have been informed through this book that Northamptonshire has the smallest population among the eighteen first-class counties as defined by the traditional boundaries; that has never won the Championship title. There was a period when they went on to play 99 games in succession without winning, losing 61 of them and drawing the remaining 38.

Assessing Durham, the newest first-class county, Berry has remarked - it is the home of the cricketer of our age, Ben Stokes, who has energised Test cricket like nobody else has ever done save perhaps Sir Frank Worrell.

Northamptonshire got dismissed for 12 (the lowest ever total in County championship) - vs Gloucestershire at Gloucester in June 1907. Scyld Berry says Northamptonshire have added abundantly to the gaiety of the nation's cricket, whether losing or winning. England's last two world-class spinners grew up at Wantage Road in Northampton, Graeme Swann and Monty Panesar, before touring India in 2012-13 and out-performing India's spinners in their own backyard.

The signing of Clive Lloyd and Farokh Engineer sparked the first hat-trick of titles in a limited-overs format - the Gillette Cups of 1970-72, under Jack Bond's captaincy. According to Berry, Engineer was ahead of his time in being a wicketkeeper who could not simply bat but open the batting and hit, having an all-rounder's licence. He brought flash and panache to a defensive era of the Indian as well as Lancastrian game.

Brian Lara enjoyed an outstanding first-class career with Warwickshire, aggregating 3099 at an average of 63.24, including twelve hundreds and six fifties, in 51 innings. His splendid knock of 501 not out off 427 balls, including 62 fours and ten sixes, for Warwickshire against Durham at Edgbaston in June 1994 remains a record in first-class cricket.

Of the 27 leading run-getters in first-class cricket, according to Berry, three came from Kent in Frank Woolley, Colin Cowdrey (Lord Cowdrey eventually), and Les Ames. Of the 30 leading wicket-takers, five came from Kent in Tich Freeman, Colin Blythe, Derek Underwood, Doug Wright and Woolley again. Of the 20 leading wicketkeepers, four came from Kent in Alan Knott, Fred Huish, Godfrey Evans and Ames again. To boot, the only fielder to have caught 1,000 catches in Woolley.

A quality production indeed! The book is worthy, reliable and informative. The volume is presented with care and attention to detail consistent with this publisher's high standards.