LIBRARY

Rare Books

Cricket boasts one of the oldest and most wide-ranging literary traditions of any sport. Some of its earliest works were published for a very limited circulation and the few surviving copies can command extremely high prices at auction. The books listed below are representative of the range of early cricket literature; from poetry to technical manuals to match records and annuals, the work of William Epps and Samuel Britcher that were the precursors to the very first edition of Wisden. Only eight of the books listed are about cricket. The ninth, the oldest book in our collection, is a 15th century treatise on real tennis by the Italian Antonio Scaino da Salo, the rarest of the treasures in the MCC Library’s extensive collection of books on that sport.

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Recommended Reads

What makes a great cricket book? What is the best cricket book of all time? These are questions that readers of cricket’s varied literature have always struggled to answer, and that keep the judges of the Cricket Society & MCC Book of the Year Award busy each year. The only possible answers are those of personal preference, and so the list below, comprising works of great historical scholarship, journalistic enquiry or simply great writing, should not be seen as final. But they are all great books filled with remarkable stories. Only nine books are listed; if you could add a tenth what would it be?

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Tour Books

150 years ago, in 1868, a team of Australian Aboriginals became the first touring cricket team to visit the United Kingdom from overseas. As the MCC Museum celebrates this anniversary with a special exhibition on the cricket tour, the MCC Library has chosen its nine favourite tour books to mark the occasion. The first ever tour book covered the first ever cricket tour, by a team of Englishmen to North America in 1859, but the genre really flowered in the middle of the twentieth century, in the fifty year period that followed the infamous Bodyline series of 1932-33. The change in the nature of international cricket over the past twenty years has rendered the tour book almost obsolete, but it has left behind a legacy of great writing. Nine of the best are listed here.

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