A brilliant photographer, a brilliant writer - and one of the most startlingly original cricket books ever published
Christian Ryan is cricket writing's most exquisite miniaturist, capable of revealing whole worlds with a knowing glance. In the peerless Patrick Eagar, he finds his perfect subject
Feeling is magical, a head rush, a marvel. It takes one summer many summers ago in the life of a cricket photographer and conjures something timeless and human. The breadth of artistic insight, the exhilarating diversions, connections and epiphanies, the miraculous details, the structural genius - taut and unspooling like John McPhee's Levels of the Game, but wilder - are propelled by an unaccountable suspense. What, you find yourself asking, will this gentle, extraordinary photographer do next? Where will this brilliant, obsessed writer take you next? Can he pull it off? Shouldn't be able to. Does he pull it off? Yes, yes, yes.
Patrick Eagar, the genius photographer of cricket's modern era, has retired now, leaving behind a treasure trove of images . . . The summer of 1975, when Australia's fast bowlers came to terrorise, and the first World Cup was staged. It is a fascinating study of Eagar's art before the internet, and the digital age.
What Eagar got out of it is a photograph of Thomson like no other . . . Other photographs may say more about the game of cricket, but no other picture better conveys the intent of the fast bowler who at the moment of delivery has eyes only for the batsman at the other end of the wicket. He's in for the kill.
Christian Ryan takes a bunch of photographs from that season and reverses the tired cliché about a picture and a thousand words. In thousands of words, he spells out the magic contained in a kind of cricket photograph whose like we do not see so much these days.