Issue 12 of The Nightwatchman is out on December 1. As usual, our latest edition is chock-full, covering the usual wide range of subject matter and styles. We’re especially pleased and appreciative that children’s laureate and political cartoonist for the Observer Chris Riddell has contributed to this issue, illustrating Anthony McGowan’s exhilarating piece on cricketing failure.
Elsewhere, we cover a subject I’ve been wanting to include in The Nightwatchman for a long time. Many of my fondest cricketing memories involve learning, playing, watching and generally larking around at Birkenhead Park Cricket Club, a place imbued with the spirit of club cricket and endowed with a cast list that would keep any soap opera in business for years. One such character is Tony Shillinglaw, a fixture at the Park for over 60 years, the last 25 of which have seen him utterly consumed by a battle to get the cricketing world to believe that Don Bradman was not some superhuman freak but an average man with below average eyesight who, through force of circumstance, found a whole new way of batting.
The memory of a 75-year-old Tony on a dimly lit squash court, to all intents and purposes becoming Bradman and battering an array of balls of different properties – squash balls, cricket balls, tennis balls, bouncy balls, practice balls – all the time talking us through how his body and his mind were doing this, will live with me for a long time. To have Professor Tim Noakes, co-author of Bob Woolmer’s Art and Science of Cricket, come into bat for Tony in this issue will hopefully get a few more people questioning received wisdom and coaching orthodoxy.
Tearing up the playbook is also what England’s Performance Analyst Nathan Leamon attempts to do in his thought-provoking and timely piece on why captains invariably bat first despite the weight of evidence suggesting they should often do the opposite. Similarly topical is Ali Mitchell’s exposure of what goes into making red, pink and white cricket balls – a real eye-opener.
And with England taking on Pakistan in the desert, we have Hassan Cheema on why international cricket is unlikely to return to Pakistan any time soon and Joe Wilson remembering the last time England did play there. Then there’s Matthew Engel on Roebuck, Alex Preston on the scars left by being barred from sport, Manu Joseph’s take on Rahul Dravid and what it says about India, and much more besides.
Matt Thacker, Managing Editor