If you’ve never seen a cricket match; if you have and it has made you snore; if you can’t understand why anyone would watch, let alone obsess over this dull game, then this book is for you.”
That’s basically me, I know nothing about cricket and have thought that it made baseball look exciting by comparison. I will admit to an academic curiosity in the sport which seems to draw over a billion fans to its games. I like the white uniforms contrasting with the green playing field and the cracking thud sound of ball on bat (similar to baseball) I just don’t want to sit through a match they may take more than a day to complete.
So what drew me to Chinaman? Or more importantly, what kept me interested? Well, quite simply, it was the way the story was told. The hero is a bit of a stereotype of the older generation of sports writers, but that lends to his charm. Hard drinking, dedicated to the sport, fired from any number of jobs over the years due to his personality, not quite the drug induced gonzo journalism of Hunter S. Thompson but very alive and real.
After a life time of broken promises to his wife, son, friends and ultimately himself he sets off to write a story about Sri Lanka’s greatest cricketer Pradeep Matthew (fictional character). It’s a sad story at times of a man who never quite made it trying to write about a mythical player who walked away from the game before reaching his prime.
The writing is excellent, the story telling engaging and I can say the brilliance of this writer is that he got me to read a 400 page novel about a subject I have no real interest in and became completely engrossed in the human element of the story.
I also love the randomness of the universe, so here I was wrapped up in this lovely cricket story when I realised the tv was on and a Cary Grant movie was showing, and right there on page three hundred and something pops up a reference to the dapper don himself!
So I created my very first gif of Cary Grant opening a bottle of champagne, because nobody opens a bottle of champagne with quite as much style and elegance as Mr Grant!! 🍾
Ahhhh the glory days of Hollywood!
A note on the title, the Chinaman is a particular pitch in cricket and described as Mathew’s bread and butter delivery.
Another great read from my SEAsia series.
Geography fail! Sri-Lanka is South Asia NOT SEAsia. I’m so American it’s embarrassing!! Thanks for the correction!
Next stop: Laos!