I’ve just finished reading Andrew Strauss’s book (review is at Cricinfo
on Saturday) and it highlighted a worrying trend: the premature autobiography. It’s one which is seemingly unstoppable, too, and not just in sport – although sportsmen offer publishers a tantalising combination of fame and talent which the public will mop up all day long.
It’s just not on, though. The book was fine – it passed a few hours, and I’d have enjoyed it at an airport or on the bus. But I was left with a feeling of “…and?” Of all the recently released autobiographies, at least Strauss’s is nicely written. He received some help from Angus Fraser but, by and large, it is his own work – a tremendous achievement, then. The fact remains that he has only been in the game five minutes. His excitement in arriving in Test cricket is glib, and no different from any other cricketer. Descriptions of the Ashes are neatly written and fondly recalled…but again, it’s nothing we haven’t heard a dozen times before. Worse still, this lets the author down more than us.
I’m sure once he’s finished his career and has progressed into a fulltime journalist, if he chooses, then his final book really will be worth reading. Right now though, it felt unfinished; much like his career, it is only the first chapter.
It’s a shame though. I think I’m right in saying Charlotte Church, who my boss absolutely adores and respects with unrivalled passion, has already published two! She’s about 23 for God’s sake. Yet we can’t blame her or other people for writing them. Books are big money these days. Monty Panesar has accepted a Â£250,000 deal to write his – he’d be very daft, or perhaps a shrewd businessman, if he turned that down. I guess it’s just a shame for us who have to review them as, essentially, it’s the same old thing over and over again.
I should probably also mention that Andrew Strauss’s autobiography, Coming into Play, is released on the same day as Kevin Pietersen’s. Strauss writes an excellent column for the Daily Telegraph and, while he’ll have used a ghost for much of this book, he is an intelligent, hard-working cricketer and it too should make for interesting reading. Like Pietersen’s, it can be pre-ordered from Amazon.