Cricket fiction revisited: the story of Alan Haselhurst’s Outcasts.
The club plays ‘friendlies’ mostly against village teams, mainly in Essex and Hertfordshire. The author himself is a member of Parliament for Saffron Walden, a constituency in that area. He is also an Honorary Vice-President of Essex County Cricket Club.
Cricket is often described as a noble game, but evidently nobody has told the Outcasts CC. Their adventures always end badly (in the sense of ‘disgracefully’).
Beer, curry, sex, and the emergency services are usually involved, though not necessarily in that order.
The first, Occasionally Cricket, was published by the now-defunct Queen Anne Press in 1999.
Eventually Cricket followed in 2001 and Incidentally Cricket in 2003.
In 2009 my own company, The Professional and Higher Partnership, published Accidentally Cricket and in 2011 we published Unusually Cricket. We have also reissued Occasionally (in print and digital formats) and Eventually and Incidentally (as e-books).
Occasionally, eventually, incidentally, accidentally, unusually: the titles indicate two things – that the author is evidently not good at alphabetical order and that he has now run out of vowels. Thus the book we’re publishing this autumn is Fatally Cricket.
In yesterday’s post I drew the distinction between fiction in which cricket is the raison d’être and fiction in which cricket plays a lesser role, as theme or context. The Outcasts series belongs unashamedly in the former camp, in the tradition of Hugh de Selincourt and John Parker. That said, I think that each successive book takes, as it were, a short single in the direction of more literary fiction. In particular, the most recent books indicate the author’s interest in crime fiction.
The trend is reflected in our use of quotations on the cover. The cover illustrated above uses a quotation from Graham Gooch OBE, a name that speaks squarely to cricket fans (Gooch captained the England team). On the front cover of the forthcoming title, Fatally, we feature Ed Smith – known both a cricketer (he also played for England) and as an author, notably of Luck: a fresh look at fortune (Bloomsbury, 2012). And on the back we now include a quotation from the expert thriller-writer,Michael Dobbs: ‘Alan Haselhurst does for club cricket what Sweeney Todd did for a quick shave. A quiet afternoon in the country has never been more deadly.’