TIMOTHY ABRAHAM & JAMES COYNE    Book Number: 91275    Product format: Paperback

Sub-titled 'A Cricket Odyssey Through Latin America' here is a history of South American food, music and culture which are cutting a swathe across the western world. What if cricket, the quintessential English sport, were to conquer Latin America? The notion of Brazilians and Mexicans playing T20 at the Maracana or the Azteca is not as far-fetched as it sounds. Cricket was the first sport played in almost every country of the Americas - earlier than football, rugby or baseball. In 1877 when England and Australia played the inaugural Test Match at the MCG, Uruguay and Argentina were already ten years into their derby played across the River Plate. The visionary cricket historian Rowland Bowen reckoned that during the high point of cricket in South America between the two World Wars, the continent could have provided the next Test nation. In Buenos Aires, where British engineers, merchants and meat-packers flocked to make their fortune, the standard of cricket was high. Towering figures like Lord Hawke and Plum Warner took star-studded teams of Test cricketers to South America, and were beaten by Argentina. A combined Argentine, Brazilian and Chilian team took on the first-class counties of England in 1932. But this is as much a social history of grit, industry and nation-building in the New World. West Indian fruit workers battled yellow fever and brutal management to carve out cricket fields next to railway lines in Costa Rica and by the hulking locks of the Panama Canal. The legendary BBC commentator Brian Johnston, working for the family coffee business in Santos, was Brazil's best wicket keeper until he was bed-ridden with beri-beri. Cricket was the favoured pursuit of the blustering Nitrate King of Chile; emperors in Brazil and Mexico used the game to curry favour with Europe; General Pinochet's grandchildren avidly play the game in Chile to this day. But the fate of cricket in South America is symbolised by Eva Perón ordering the burning down of the Buenos Aires Cricket Club Pavilion when they refused to hand over their premises to her welfare scheme. Mexican bandits, Columbian guerrillas and Argentine anarchists have kidnapped their country's leading cricketers for ransom. Here cricket journalists Abraham and Coyne deftly meld social history with sporting memoir and travelogue. 438pp in large paperback, 16 pages of colour and mono photos.
Published price: £14.99
Bibliophile price: £4.00

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ISBN 9781472132536
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