Issue 40 – out now

Managing editor Matt Thacker introduces issue 40 of the Nightwatchman

England are double world champions! I’m writing this as the men’s football team are about to kick off against Iran. Received wisdom would have our brave boys sent packing in the knockout phase by some ruthless winning machine. And that’s what used to happen to our cricket team too, invariably defeated by the first really good side they came up against.
But not longer, it seems. The white-ball boys have been magnificent for some time now, able to tinker before the major tournaments in case of injuries to the big names. And those injuries were legion this time round before and during the tournament, with England’s replacements proving themselves the match of every side. Best batter Dawid Malan and best bowler Mark Wood injured? No problem. To celebrate their feat of being the first team ever to hold both white-ball world trophies, we’ve got a photo story on the final against Pakistan.
And plenty more besides. We’ve got our first ever contribution from David Frith, who recalls a life-changing visit to Jack Gregory; and another Nightwatchman debutant Henry Warne brings us right up to date on Afghanistan cricket. Meanwhile playwright and cricketer Shomit Dutta talks about the genesis of his cricket themed play about Samuel Beckett and Harold Pinter; Chris Sandford wonders about the connection between rock music and cricket; Rich Edwards goes back to the 80s when a group of extraordinary all-rounders roamed the country; John Stone reflects on footballing cricketers; Patrick Ferriday looks back to a day in 1927 when Walter met Wilfred; Paul Akeroyd speaks to Wes Hall about how he coped bowling the final over of the tied Test against Australia in 1960–61; and Qaiser Mohammad Ali speaks to the policeman who accidentally uncovered Hansie Cronje’s match-fixing.
And the mainstay of this issue is a wonderful tale from Richard Heller, who tells the inspirational story of a day in the life of an aspiring young quick bowler. A yarn that will keep you warm over the long winter months as, in this hemisphere at least, we dream about summer mornings and long sun-drenched evenings. They will return, promise.
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 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, December 2022