One of Duncan Hamilton’s favourite writers on cricket, Edmund Blunden, wrote how he felt going to watch a game: ‘You arrive early, earlier even than you meant . . .
and you feel a little guilty at the thought of the day you propose to give up to sheer luxury’. Following Neville Cardus’s assertion that ‘there can be no summer in this land without cricket’, Hamilton plotted the games he would see in 2019 and write down reflectively on some of the cricket that blessed his own sight. It would be captured in the context of the coming season in case subsequent summers and the imminent arrival of The Hundred made that impossible.
He would write in the belief that after this season the game might never be quite the same again. He visits Welbeck Colliery Cricket Club to see Nottinghamshire play Hampshire at the tiny ground of Sookholme, gifted to the club by a local philanthropist who takes money on the gate; his village team at Menston in Yorkshire; the county ground at Hove; watches Ben Stokes’s heroics at Headingley, marvels at Jofra Archer’s gift of speed in a Second XI fixture for Sussex against Gloucestershire in front of 74 people and three well-behaved dogs; and realises when he reaches the last afternoon of the final county match of the season at Taunton, ‘How blessed I am to have been born here. How I never want to live anywhere else. How much I love cricket.’
One Long and Beautiful Summer forms a companion volume to Hamilton’s 2009 classic, A Last English Summer. It is sports writing at its most accomplished and evocative, confirming his reputation as the finest contemporary chronicler of the game.