On Tour And Touring

The Nightwatchman Podcast

18-05-2022 • 1 hr 7 mins

Guests: Scyld Berry and David Woodhouse

We tend to take the concept of the tour for granted, yet is it not one of cricket’s strangest phenomena? Devised on Victorian timescales of months at sea followed by a lengthy navigation of distant lands, the notion feels increasingly at odds with modern life. So bound up is cricket with travel that the centrally contracted England player will spend no more than a couple of months each year in their own bed, producing a carbon footprint more like Orwell’s boot stamping on a human face forever.

And yet the tour offers the game much of its romance, its exocticism, its thrill.  The variety of experience, the difference in everything from the pitches to the crowd noise, the chance to see and understand something of how the rest of the world lives and plays, offer cricket a richness that other sport don’t have.

Much of the game’s myth making and camaraderie comes from being thrown together, a travelling circus of players, families, coaches, support staff and media.

In this episode Jon speaks to Scyld Berry, one of the game’s foremost writers for many decades, the Telegraph’s chief cricket correspondent and a former editor of Wisden Almanack.

He also speaks to David Woodhouse about one tour in particular - England’s tour of West Indies in 1953/4, a tour that Len Hutton, who because the first professional to captain England overseas, said ‘shortened his career by two years’, to which the tour player/manager Charles Palmer replied, ‘I’m surprised he only said two’.

David's book Who Only Cricket Know is available here

Scyld's book Beyond The Boundaries is available here

The Nightwatchman Podcast

Written and hosted by Jon Hotten

Produced and edited by James Wallace

Sponsored by Rathbones