A brilliant new book … In Who Only Cricket Know, David Woodhouse writes a compelling account of a historic series marked by tantrums and turmoil, racism and riots, class conflicts and colonialism – and some great cricket.
ROGER ALTON, THE SPECTATOR
Superb … Wide-ranging … Woodhouse gives full flavour to the complex issues of race and class, without which Caribbean cricket of the time cannot be understood … If you like cricket, the Caribbean and history then Who Only Cricket Know is a fine place to start.
MIKE ATHERTON, THE TIMES
Bodyline has long been recognised as the most controversial of all tours, certainly of all England tours, but a new reappraisal makes a persuasive case for an England tour of West Indies to take the title. We think Joe Root has plenty on his shoulders … This fascinating account makes it clear that Len Hutton had plenty more on his.
SCYLD BERRY, DAILY TELEGRAPH
Brilliant … Riveting … In the section where he records each day’s play, I found myself hanging on to the events as if I were a live spectator. A refreshing approach to describing a series, reminiscent of another brilliant take from Rahul Bhattacharya in Pundits from Pakistan. Everything is covered in detail that could have been tedious, but the author managed to find such an exquisite balance in its presentation that one comes away edified and entertained by the account. It is certainly worth the read.
VANEISA BAKSH, TRINIDAD EXPRESS
Brilliant … Of all the books written about MCC and English tours over the last century (including the Bodyline series) this book is one of the truly outstanding ones. It is gripping and exciting and just demands to be read.
ANTHONY BRADBURY, MENSA CRICKET SPECIAL INTEREST GROUP
We are big on West Indies cricket beyond the boundary and this book is a political, social, cultural and economic tour de force. You’ll want to pour yourself a cup of tea and really take this one in.
CARIBBEAN CRICKET PODCAST
Woodhouse’s writing shows great skill and he is an accomplished wordsmith who clearly has a sense of humour … Bringing up the rear of this splendidly written and well-illustrated book are the scorecards of the Tests, the tour statistics, a comprehensive bibliography and a very fine index … Pretty much perfect.
MARTIN CHANDLER, CRICKETWEB
(5-star review – ‘Martin wanted to give this one six stars’)
(5-star review – ‘Martin wanted to give this one six stars’)
It is hard to believe that a tour book could be much better than this … The author’s research is meticulous and remarkable … It is riveting stuff and while the account of the cricket is excellent, the background to it is what makes this book such a tour de force. This book is an absolute gem and deserves its place among the very best that I have read.
STEVE DOLMAN, PEAKFAN BLOG
David Woodhouse’s immaculate book is a piece of modern history shown through a cricketing lens … It is deeply and lovingly researched, and then crafted like a batmaker working on his Grade A willow. One for the purists, in every respect.
JON HOTTEN, WISDEN CRICKET MONTHLY
This is a notably well-informed and enjoyable account of a highly absorbing series. Although it took place so long ago it feels as if the author was himself on tour with England in ’53/54. As a young newspaper employee at the time, I recall the tensions which sprang out of the daily reports. What we read then was a convenient narrative. David Woodhouse has neatly unveiled the complexities of a sensational cricket tour.
DAVID FRITH, AUTHOR OF BODYLINE AUTOPSY AND PADDINGTON BOY
Authoritative … While the English-centric record of events has always concentrated primarily on the “who said what to whom” and who was most to blame, Woodhouse aims for a far more balanced and expansive view, foregrounding Caribbean voices and revisiting complex and even contradictory characters … Seven years of research and writing allowed him to place the full gamut of detail within a rich social, racial and political history.
EMMA JOHN, THE GUARDIAN
David Woodhouse’s compelling account of the controversial English tour of the West Indies in 1953/54 represents the culmination of a revolution in cricket history … He conveys a vivid sense of place; he offers psychological insights (cricket being of course a game played largely in the mind); and throughout he is aware of the bigger social and cultural picture … Our cricket remains in some fundamental ways the prisoner of history. But at least we now have in this fine book a sure guide to an important slice of that history.
DAVID KYNASTON, TIMES LITERARY SUPPLEMENT
Truly wonderful … And what a really beautiful object the book itself is!
ANDY IRVINE, MUSICIAN AND SINGER-SONGWRITER
A superb chronicle of an often overlooked chapter in cricketing history, written not only with a deep and intimate love of the game but a rare social and cultural perspective.
JONATHAN LIEW, GUARDIAN SPORTSWRITER
The characters and the plot … make for a fascinating tale. But Woodhouse achieves far more than the standard tour book by placing the series in its historical context in a scholarly, yet accessible way. Who Only Cricket Know is a tour de force, and Wisden’s Book of the Year.
VIC MARKS, WISDEN CRICKETERS’ ALMANACK 2022
Balanced and sympathetic … With impressive insight and immaculate research, Woodhouse creates a grippingly entertaining tale of touring intrigue that shows how sport can never be insulated from the wider social and political circumstances in which it is played … Here is a very specific, and beautifully written, example of the calamities that can befall any sporting team that fails to ‘read the room’.
PETER MASON, MORNING STAR
What are the greatest books on cricket? Lovers of the game have long debated this topic … Now we have another contender. This book by David Woodhouse will surely make the short lists for a host of annual awards. It will deserve to do so on literary merit, supported by rigorous research and a balanced quest for the truth about a tour that perhaps surpasses Bodyline for the contention and ill-feeling it provoked.
DOUGLAS MILLER, THE CRICKET STATISTICIAN
There can be no more fitting title for a book that pulls off the remarkable trick of making its readers feel more intelligent with every passing page. Sport exists ineluctably hand in hand with politics, and David Woodhouse grippingly illustrates that truth in this profoundly absorbing and masterfully written tale. A genuinely stupendous achievement.
DANIEL NORCROSS, TEST MATCH SPECIAL COMMENTATOR
A really remarkable book … A major work of political, economic, social and cultural history … It says a lot about the present as well as the past.
OBORNE AND HELLER ON CRICKET
A page-turner … Completely compelling … Serious history writing applied to cricket … A book that matters.
REVERSE SWEPT RADIO
David Woodhouse’s account of Len Hutton’s tour of the Caribbean in 1953/54 is a beautifully told and important story of cricket and politics, unavoidably and fascinatingly mixed, with echoes that reverberate as much today as they did nearly 70 years ago, perhaps more so.
SIR TIM RICE
I have already read one commentator suggest that the Woodhouse book will likely collect literary prizes. Not only do I hope and trust that this will be the case but I would happily further endorse this view … David has researched the book admirably and painstakingly over, I suspect, a lengthy period given that some of the interviewees have since died. One early point I noticed was that the, if you like, Dramatis Personae, include a good number of journalists. These people are a pivotal and essential part of the book, their reports adding a fascinating aspect and relevance to the story … I have enjoyed David’s maybe whimsical, possibly wry and certainly entertaining writing style … The book is another fine example of Fairfield Books’s high quality production and complements David Woodhouse’s outstanding work.
ANDREW ROBERTS, CRICKET STATISTICS
The best cricket book I have read in ages. Buy it, read it, savour it … A rare and magnificent gem … The cricket of the tour itself forms the middle third of David Woodhouse’s masterly book … Every other detail aside, I would recommend the book just for the two chapters on Stollmeyer and Hutton … The level of detail in the book is fascinating … What specifically delighted me was the amount of cultural references – novels, drama, poetry, lyrics – that Woodhouse refers to while constructing his narrative … Engrossingly readable all through.
ARUNABHA SENGUPTA, CRICKETMASH
This is an essential purchase. It’s hard to remember a cricket book that covers a single tour being so compelling a story. There are very few writers who could do this justice by using forensic detail and yet not making it as dry as dust. There are some good jokes (more gentle humour, really) and an eye for the faintly ridiculous, but David Woodhouse never loses the thrust of the story … The writing and storyline are impeccable … Good statistics and a belter of an index round out the book … Everyone who loves cricket should have a copy of this.
JOHN SYMONDS, THE JOURNAL OF THE CRICKET SOCIETY
An excellent resource … The cricketing events of 1953/54 are entirely beyond my memory but this book brings the passions simmering in Guyana, or British Guiana as it was known back then, and indeed the wider West Indies, and entrenches them in the field of play and beyond …. Two chapters – Chapter 12, ‘British Guiana’ and Chapter 13, ‘Third Test (Bourda)’ just by themselves are worth the price of the book.
DR TULSI DYAL SINGH, BERBICE CRICKET BOARD SPONSOR
This is a superb book. It does for Len Hutton’s turbulent tour of the West Indies what David Frith’s Bodyline Autopsy did for Douglas Jardine’s Australia campaign. It is the last word.
SIMON WILDE, SUNDAY TIMES CRICKET CORRESPONDENT
It is one of the most well-researched and entertaining cricket books read by this reviewer, who was nothing less than fascinated by each anecdote that made it a genuine page-turner … It is this ability to bring the characters to life and turn so many famous names from the past into living breathing men once more that is one of David Woodhouse’s greatest achievements … At its heart this tour and thus this book is about race and class, two subjects that are still very much alive, and with Barbados becoming a republic just last year, once again Woodhouse’s timing could not be better. For those of us born and raised in the UK with Caribbean heritage and a love of cricket, this book is a gem.
DEAN WILSON, DAILY MIRROR CRICKET CORRESPONDENT REVIEWING WOCK FOR THE CRICKETER
A wonderful story, very smartly told. Proof of the old saying that there is nothing as new as the history we do not know.
ROBERT WINDER, MCC/CRICKET SOCIETY BOOK OF THE YEAR CHAIR OF JUDGES
Any keen student of cricket history or of West Indian politics in the 1950s should purchase this book immediately.
DAVID YOUNG, MAXBOOKS
Links to Reviews and Podcasts
OBORNE AND HELLER PODCAST, 1 November 2021
ROGER ALTON, ‘Yorkshire cricket: the long view’, THE SPECTATOR, 13 November 2021 (paywall)
MARTIN CHANDLER, CRICKET WEB, 28 November 2021
ARUNABHA SENGUPTA, ‘A rare gem of a book’, CRICKETMASH, 19 December 2021
CRICKET SOCIETY INTERVIEW with STEPHEN CHALKE, 24 January 2022
CRICKET BADGER PODCAST with JAMES BUTTLER, 28 January 2022
DAVID KYNASTON, ‘A game played in the mind’, TIMES LITERARY SUPPLEMENT, 28 January 2022 (behind paywall)
REVERSE SWEPT RADIO PODCAST 149, 1 February 2022
DAVID B YOUNG, Review for MaxBooks, 5 February 2022
EMMA JOHN, “Ill-will just built up”: the MCC team’s acrimonious 1953-54 Caribbean tour’, THE GUARDIAN – THE SPIN, 16 February 2022
CARIBBEAN CRICKET PODCAST 58, 25 February 2022
ANDREW ROBERTS, CRICKET STATISTICS, 27 February 2002
MIKE ATHERTON, ‘Sonny Ramadhin: A Caribbean trailblazer immortalised in a victory song’, THE TIMES, 3 March 2022 (behind paywall)
SCYLD BERRY, ‘England tour that rivalled Bodyline’, FINAL WHISTLE – DAILY TELEGRAPH, 3 March 2022 (behind paywall)
PATRICK KIDD, ‘Bailey wrote off his own hopes’, SPORTS DIARY – THE TIMES, 5 March 2022 (behind paywall)
STEVE DOLMAN, PEAKFAN, 6 March 2022
PETER MASON, ‘It wasn’t cricket, was it’, MORNING STAR
STARBROEK NEWS, Letter to the editor by TULSI DYAL SINGH, 14 March 2022
STUMPED, BBC World Service, 25 March 2022
RED INKER PODCAST with JARROD KIMBER, 30 March 2022
MAYUKH GHOSH, Stories Behind Books, CRICKETMASH, 7 April 2022
KENNETH JAIKARANGSINGH, ‘A most unpleasant and unfortunate experience, BIGDRUMNATION, 15 April 2022
DEAN WILSON, ‘Everything a storyteller could want’, review for THE CRICKETER, April 2022 (behind paywall)
MORNING EDITION (TRINIDAD), interview with FAZEER MOHAMMED, 25 April 2022
SPORTSMAX ZONE (JAMAICA), 29 April 2022
VANEISA BAKSH, ‘A captivating cricket read’, Trinidad Express, 30 April 2002
‘On Tour and Touring’, THE NIGHTWATCHMAN PODCAST with JON HOTTEN, 18 May 2002
Links to Charities
THE ACE PROGRAMME
THE CRICKET KINDNESS PROJECT
STOCKWELL GOOD NEIGHBOURS