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 hardhitting all-rounder like Botham. But theirs was a barely recognisable game from the one we play on often 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 decoding the casual phrase 'I bat a bit', to setting a field of players who can't catch or throw; 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. For all those of us who recognise ourselves, our teammates, our friends and partners in the shambling joy of amateur cricket more than in the top-class international game, Campbell lights a path through a weekend world of play at the beating heart of the world's second most popular sport.
An entertaining guide to the trials and tribulations of amateur cricket captaincy
Funny, self-deprecating, and full of wry wisdom, Charlie Campbell perfectly captures the exquisite torture of running an amateur cricket club. The ideal companion piece to Mike Brearley's The Art of Captaincy, and a must-read for anyone who's ever donned whites on a Sunday afternoon. Michael Simkins Very funny. Cricket captains everywhere will relate to this. Nasser Hussain Charlie Campbell has written amateur cricket an ardent love letter; when faced with the deepest frustrations the amateur captain must endure he hates neither the players nor the game. Funny and touching in equal measure. Al Murray A professional cricket captain needs to be part psychologist, part gambler, part babysitter, part sergeant-major, part "one of the lads" and part aloof overseer. As Charlie Campbell shows, it's even trickier for the amateur! Mark Butcher After several years of trying, Charlie Campbell's leadership skills finally overcame mine when the Authors trounced Heartaches in 2016. How foolish of him to reveal his secrets, albeit extraordinarily entertainingly. Sir Tim Rice
Charlie Campbell is 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 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. He lives in London. @ScapegoatCC and @AuthorsCC