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Echoing Greens: How Cricket Shaped the English Imagination

Brendan Cooper

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History of sport, Ball games, Cricket

The depth of the bond between cricket and the English imagination.

The importance of cricket to England has been immortalised in the art and literature of a thousand years. For countless artists and writers across the centuries, the culture and aesthetics of cricket - white-clad players, the crack of bat on ball, booming appeals, admiring applause, figures running up to bowl, batsmen leaning, waiting, swinging the blade - have been as essential to the English landscape as the hills and meadows immortalised by Gainsborough, Constable and Turner.

It is a story that is known in part, but one that has never been explored in full. And it is lined with surprises, forgotten tales and unnoticed details - ranging from medieval manuscript illustrations, through a dazzling variety of visual art, poetry, fiction and drama, to recent portraits of contemporary heroes.

Echoing Greens is a fascinating and thoughtful exploration of the bond between cricket and the English imagination. It unveils that beneath cosy patriotic dreams of 'English values', a much wilder, more complex story exists. Alongside stories of heroic figures, noble values, and pastoral idylls, the literature and the art of cricket also tell of vice, violence, and scandal. The result is a thrilling investigation into the true story behind these representations of the game, and forces us to reconsider the history of cricket itself.

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