Issue 44 – out now

Managing editor Matt Thacker introduces issue 44 of the Nightwatchman

I’m writing this the day before the ICC Men’s Cricket World Cup final. A final that will take place in Ahmedabad in front of 132,000 screaming fans between two of the big three. That’s India and Australia, in case you didn’t know. The other member of that group endured a tournament that lurched from one disaster to another, one grumpy post-match interview to the next, on a gruelling tour around India that went to show how hard it is to stay at the top.

While our photo story from the World Cup features a succession of glum English faces, it is worth remembering what utter joy the men’s national white-ball side has provided us over the past few years. The way they rushed towards the danger, never taking a backward step, has been quite something to behold and it is no exaggeration to say that their joie de vivre and entertain-at-all-costs attitude has changed the way cricket at all levels and in all formats is now played. 

It is never a bad thing to be reminded that elite sport is fiendishly hard, that players are performing right at the very margins of what is possible, and that victory against equally brilliant athletes is never a given. So, hats off to cricket’s golden generation, you did us proud.

In this issue of the Nightwatchman, we take our customary whistle-stop tour of the world, involving cricketing heartlands and outposts alike. We’re on the tiny island of Barbados – population around a quarter of a million, about the size of Milton Keynes – where three of the greatest batters ever to play the game, Frank Worrell, Everton Weekes and Clyde Walcott, were born and grew up within 18 months and a couple of miles of each other. At the time of their birth in the mid-20s, the island’s population would have been under 200,000. Not much bigger than that of Bridgend’s today, and it is the small Welsh town that is the focus of this issue’s lead piece, a tale about how cricket can create and cultivate a community.

In terms of odd places where the game is played, they don’t come more far-flung than Israel and Iceland, but here they are, featuring on our pages alongside Pakistan (Mushtaq’s ghost appearance in the 60s), India (coach RP Singh making his mark in Lancashire) and South Africa (featuring Nelson Mandela and Clive Lloyd, as well as Kesha Maharaj’s extraordinary story). 

 And of course, we have England, our England. Back in Blighty we move from Virginia Woolf to Norman Tebbit, via Trevor Bailey and some Minor County giant-killing exploits. Exactly what you would expect from the Nightwatchman.

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 2023