Managing Editor Matt Thacker introduces issue 37 of the Nightwatchman…
It’s print day, coming towards the end of February. It should be that time of year when we’re excitedly poring over fixture lists, planning a trip to that outground we’ve never visited, seeing if we can afford to splash some cash on a day out at an international, maybe even take in a Hundred double-header. But no. Putin has decided to invade Ukraine and things are not looking good. It makes focusing on the game, let alone our little cricket quarterly, seem absurd. The hand-wringing and hair-tearing about England’s recent travails on the pitch rather ludicrous.
But we soldier on of course, while thinking about the actual soldiers. Another day, another week, another month, another issue. And we keep trying to entertain and to inform, to provide new voices with a place to say their piece, to give old hands the chance to remind people just what they can do.
I think this issue is a really nice mixture. Of writers, of styles, and of content – taking in cricket-playing nations from all around the world. Among the subjects our diverse band of contributors address are: a train crash in New Zealand, an Indian official averting a crisis in Australia, the burgeoning cricket scene in Germany, West Indian spinners, George Headley’s childhood in Panama, Australia’s cricketing tennis star, a tragic tale of a promising cricketer from South Africa struck down by a rare disease, Britain seen through a Pakistani’s eyes, and a troubling report from European cricket. It’s all in here, promise.
And that, incredibly, is just the half of it. The Nightwatchman would not be the Nightwatchman without a generous helping of whimsy, provided here by Richard Heller, who rattles through a philosophical history of the game. And for those of you interested in cricket’s place in literature – which I would guess is most of you! – there is a fascinating piece about the rise and fall of the village cricket story from Rod Edmond.
All that said, I’d like to point you in particular to the last piece in this issue, an extract from David Woodhouse’s superlative book Who Only Cricket Know, which documents MCC’s tumultuous tour of the Caribbean in 1953/54. 70+ years ago it may have been, but as England prepare to take on the West Indies this month, the themes of selectorial whim, player behaviour and racial abuse took centre stage back then just as they do today. If David’s book does not win awards, I’ll eat my cricket cap.
As ever, if you would like to write for us or just let us know what you think about the Nightwatchman, good or bad, please get in touch at firstname.lastname@example.org. We read every submission (but promise nothing) that fulfils our criteria: that articles should touch on cricket (however tangentially) and are original, well written and thought-provoking.
Matt Thacker, March 2022