Bookshelf review: Right off the Bat

January 3, 2012 · 1 comment

Right Off the Bat: Baseball, Cricket, Literature, and Life, by Evander Lomke and Martin Rowe. Paul Dry Books, 2011.

As mentioned in a previous post, I’ve been fascinated by cricket longer than I can remember. During a visit to Montreal when I was 10, I recall buying a small British import at a WH Smith & Son (their version of Barnes and Noble) and not understanding any of it, although the photos were nice.

Since then I’ve come across a handful of titles in an attempt to really learn the game (one of the better ones is Cricket for Americans: Playing and Understanding the Game, by Tom Melville and Ian Chappell, published in 1993. But that’s more of a how-to (I have Cricket For Dummies on my list of things to read as well).

That’s why I was excited about to learn about Right off the Bat, a collaboration by British-born Martin Rowe and his U.S counterpart, Evander Lomke.

Within the pages of this slim paperback (also available as an ebook), the novice of both sports will find plenty to whet his or her appetite which will lead to further exploration.Chapters include the fundamentals for baseball and cricket in terms of players, positioning, strategy, and the playing field themselves.

The authors (Rowe is on the left, Lomke, the right) choose a few bits from history and a few players for comparison, as well as the social importance of the games to their respective nations of origin. Both the U.S. and Great Britain used the sports for imperialistic goals and both were guilty of excluding non-whites from their ranks for far too long. Another interesting point they make is a suggestion that the vast majority of high school and college baseball players never make it to the pros. Why not teach them cricket early on; their skill might just earn them a spot on those professional clubs.

Each chapter — divided into nine plus one extra innings (even though cricket games usually consist of no more than two) — includes an “interval” (the cricket equivalent of the seventh inning stretch) or two of sidebar goodies germane to the theme. My favorite chapter, as you might guess, features what Rowe and Lomke consider the best books and movies about the two games.

My main complaint is that the book isn’t long enough. I would have enjoyed “expanded coverage.” I’m also curious as to the sales figures in GB and the U.S. and which newbies — those coming to cricket or baseball for the first time — will get more out of it.

For more fun and information, visit their blog, “A site dedicated to the interplay of the worlds of cricket and baseball.”

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