5 JULY 1963, Page 7

It's The Way That You Do It

At the luncheon for cricketers and spectators on the annual occasion of the match between authors and the National Book League, Sir Learie Constantine said that one of the things which has kept cricket going is the ample and excellent literature which has gathered about the game. Why is it, I wondered, that so many talented writers down the years have been pas- sionately devoted to cricket, both as a game and as a subject? Having worked through the reasons usually given—the formal pattern of the game, its changing and fascinating rhythms, the pleasant surroundings, etc. etc.-1 still couldn't see that cricket had all that much for writers that didn't equally appertain to, say, golf. Then it occurred to me that the clue lies in something else Sir Learie said, when he emphasised that in cricket unorthodoxy or even eccentricity of method is no bar to the highest success—a point so delightfully illustrated by -his own country- men, not least by himself. When one thinks it over carefully, cricket is the only game or sport of which this is true: high-level players of other games, while they may develop individually recognisable styles, cannot afford to flout the basic principles of 'correct' play (no champion- ship golfer, for instance, could get away' with an incorrect grip). I like to fancy that it is this extreme personal liberty which cricketers enjoy in matters of technique that makes both them and their game so congenial to that natural anarchist, the creative writer.