One day, many seasons ago, Jon Hotten was on the field when a bowler took all ten wickets. In his memories, the afternoon has the quality of a dream. The ground was deep in the countryside, surrounded by trees. The boundary line was erratic and the sightscreens weathered. The match was won beneath a ‘perfect sky’. Hotten’s prose, simultaneously spare and lyrical, conjures up the scene as magically as Edward Thomas’s poem evokes Adlestrop.
What happened to the people who played with him on that day, Hotten wonders. ‘Have they had good lives since then? I hope so. Nothing ties us except that game, but I doubt that anyone who played has forgotten it.’ The reflection is one that cuts to the heart of why people who play cricket regularly over the course of their lives should so love and treasure it. Other sports too, of course, weave shared memories for those who participate in them; but there really does seem a peculiar quality, which Hotten captures as well as anyone who has ever written about the game, to the tapestry woven by cricket.
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