Welcome to the 30th issue of the Nightwatchman, one that emerges into a world that we did not imagine when we were planning it just a few months ago. Here we are in the middle of the cricket season, the swallows darting over the fields, the cow parsley huge and aromatic, but without any games to watch or play.
All round the world the game has drawn in on itself as coronavirus spreads its fingers, existing only through replays and in the back garden, and sometimes the feeling of a summer slipping away can be overwhelming. Here we hope we can help, with a Nightwatchman full of beautiful writing.
At the front of the book, Eleanor Oldroyd starts with a lovely piece about cricket and choral music before Jonathan Wilson slides into his epic, over 29 pages, on Sunderland, his parents, Lance Gibbs, loss and memory. Do make the time to sit down with it; it is deeply moving.
Elsewhere, Charlie Burgess writes in fond memory of the Upper Edrich Stand at Lord’s where he and his family sat happily for years until the bulldozers moved in at the end of last season, Snehal Pradhan talks to South African couple Marizanne Kapp and Dane van Niekerk about love, cricket and God, and Nicholas Brookes examines Douglas Jardine’s behaviour on MCC’s tour of Ceylon – let’s just say he hadn’t learnt from his Bodyline experiences.
We also have a treat for the eyes with the finalists of the Wisden-MCC Photograph of the Year competition and a second picture section, this time by Emma Levine, who has spent many hours capturing Mumbai’s hidden cricket, its dusty days on the backstreets and in the maidans of the city. As we look towards some internationals later this summer in empty, bio-secure stadiums, we remember cricket in a very different way, not that long ago: Ben Lerwill looks back on his autograph-collecting days and S.J. Litherland conjures up Ian Bell batting in the shadows at The Riverside in 2018. Paul Edwards writes with his customary verve about his favourite West Country writers and James Wallace measures his life’s struggles in cricket series.
We hope that you find something within these pages to enjoy during this strangest of times.
And meanwhile, 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 editor@ thenightwatchman.net. 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.
Tanya Aldred, June 2020