(illustrations by Maha)
Last week, on March 16, the doyen of cricket writers, David Frith, celebrated his 81st birthday.
During the last 49 years, Frith has written 37 books on cricket. Each and every one of them are meticulously researched, painstakingly crafted and wonderfully worded.
Each of them attains a level of detail that is scarce in today’s world of book dumping.
From March 1973, Frith served as the editor of The Cricketer. Later, in June 1979, he became the founder-editor of the Wisden Cricket Monthly, a post that he held till February 1996. Throughout, he remained one of the most respected commentators on the game and a prolific writer of cricket books.
For the last 60 or more years, Frith has tracked down men who have been associated with the game. From Wilfred Rhodes to Sydney Barnes, from Jack Gregory to Les Ames, from Don Bradman to Ernie McCormick, he has met them all.
It is difficult to pick a favourite from his enormous number of books. However, my personal choice would be his magnificent treatise on the infamous series of 1932-33 named Bodyline Autopsy. Apart from that he has also detailed a fascinating, albeit morbid, account of cricketing suicides titled By His Own Hand, which was republished as Silence of the Heart.
Apart from these, the life stories of Archie Jackson and Ross Gregory are valuable additions to cricket literature, and the multiple biographies of Drewy Stoddart, the lifelong obsession of Frith, have filled a gaping hole in the landscape of cricket chronicles.
And of course, there are the photograph collections of The Golden Age of Cricket, The England versus Australia Tests and the incredible Pageant of Cricket.
Speaking to noted cricket researcher and quiz master Mayukh Ghosh, Gideon Haigh once mentioned that the two must-visit places in the cricket world were Roger Page’s house in Yallambie, Melbourne, and David Frith’s house in Guildford, Surrey.
Frith’s collection of books, films, pictures and memorabilia is unparalleled in the cricketing world.
A Blinders Tribute