472 pages, hardback
Who Only Cricket Know, Hutton’s Men in the West Indies 1953/54 tells the story of the second most controversial tour in English cricket history, which has not been revisited since two tour books came out in its immediate aftermath.The cricket is dramatic, the key characters fascinating, and it is awash with incidents on and off the field, many of them involving race and social class.
This was the first tour in which MCC travelled by plane (although they returned home on the boat) and the first time they were captained by a professional player – Len Hutton. It was also Hutton’s Yorkshire teammate Fred Trueman’s debut tour and for the opposition, the Three Ws were in their pomp and a young man called Garfield Sobers made his international bow.
David Woodhouse has meticulously researched every aspect of the tour as well as carrying out a number of interviews, retaining the nuances and subtleties of the different levels of the story. He takes us through the lead-up to the tour, the warm-up games and the five Test matches, as well as the recriminations that took place both at Lord’s and in the West Indies.
Praise for Who Only Cricket Know
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
Gripping cricket, fascinating characters and a backcloth of Caribbean nations on the cusp of independence where issues of race and social class are never far from the surface, these are the ingredients of this most dramatic of tours. It needed a writer with a rare gift to weave it all together into a compelling but never simplistic read, and David Woodhouse undoubtedly has that gift. The book is a masterpiece.
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
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
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
A masterful retelling of an historic tour and so much more besides. Woodhouse brings alive the time, the characters and the matches with great skill and flair.
DEAN WILSON, DAILY MIRROR CRICKET CORRESPONDENT
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