Wednesday, September 09, 2009

Menon, Suresh. "Poet of the Willow: Archie Jackson, 1909-1933." CRICINFO September 6, 2009.

Frith, David. Archie Jackson: the Keats of Cricket. London: Pavillion, 1987.

Comparisons with music seem to fit cricket better than comparisons with literature. Or perhaps we have been led to believe this is so by the writings of Neville Cardus, who thought nothing of grabbing his readers with: "And Spooner's cricket in spirit was kin with sweet music, and the singing of Elizabeth Schumann in Johann Strauss." Somehow it has always seemed more appropriate to compare a genius cricketer to Mozart, say, than to Shakespeare; even established literary figures when they occasionally wrote on the game tended to look outside their stream for analogies and comparisons. JB Priestley, for example, in his study of Garry Sobers did not see fit to bring Shakespeare into the equation as an allrounder.

So it was with some surprise that I read the subtitle of a biography of Archie Jackson. The surprise vanished when I read the author's name - David Frith, who, though certainly more literary than musical, is without the need to impress by dipping into the cauldron of cricket clichés. The subtitle? "The Keats of Cricket."

It is superbly apposite, conjuring up images that represent talent, suffering, delicacy, romance, tuberculosis and untimely death. Keats died at 25. His grave proclaims, "Here lies one whose name was writ in water." Jackson was 23 when he died, and Frith's attempt to ensure that his name is not merely writ in water is an admirable one. . . .

Read the rest here:

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