In 1985 Mike Brearley published The Art of Captaincy, revealing how he steered Middlesex and England to victory with his team of first-class cricketers. He got the absolute best out of his players, inspiring Ian Botham to new heights against the Australians in 1981. Few cricketers have had a greater impact on the amateur game than these two.
Every captain would love Brearley’s degree in people, as well as a hard-hitting all-rounder like Botham. But theirs was a barely recognisable game from the one mere mortals play – often on dishevelled grounds up and down the country with ragtag teams of ageing, deluded or hungover friends and acquaintances. Now, Charlie Campbell offers us a New Testament to Brearley’s Old Testament as he guides us through the realities of captaining an amateur team.
Herding Cats picks its way through the minefield of an amateur’s season: from the excitement and hope of pre-season nets, to the desperate scramble to gather 11 players for a frosty game on a far-flung, desolate pitch; from handling the most delicate egos, to dealing with a case of the yips; from frequent moments of despair, to sudden and joyful glimpses of unexpected glory. Campbell lights a path through a weekend world of play at the beating heart of the world’s second most popular sport.
“Very funny. Cricket captains everywhere will relate to this.” – Nasser Hussain
“Charlie Campbell has written amateur cricket an ardent love letter … Funny and touching in equal measure.” – Al Murray
“Funny, self-deprecating, and full of wry wisdom …a must-read for anyone who’s ever donned whites on a Sunday afternoon.” – Michael Simkins
Herding Cats – The Art of Amateur Cricket Captaincy by Charlie Campbell and foreword by Mike Brearley will be published by Wisden on the 9th March 2017
Charlie Campbell is the captain of the Authors Cricket Club and edited their book The Authors XI: A Season of English Cricket from Hackney to Hambledon. He has led his team in over a hundred consecutive games, facing the might of the Rajasthan Royals, the Vatican and the national team of Japan along the way.
He is also the author of Scapegoat: A History of Blaming Other People and has written for the Observer, Wisden India, The Nightwatchman, Big Issue, Time Out and Literary Review.