Anyone But England is a timely and entertaining exploration of the bonds which the English cricket to the English nation as both face apparently inexorable decline.
Mike Marqusee, an American who has lived in England for twenty years, turns the amused gaze of an outsider on to the idiosyncrasies of the English at play, delving into the interminable wrangles over coloured clothing, covered pitches and commercial sponsorship. Yet Marqusee also displays the knowledgeability and passion of a dedicated cricket follower who has watched matches on four continents. His elegant and concise accounts of the origins of the game, its romance with the British Empire, and its traumatic adjustment to the modern market lift the lid on the paradoxes and hypocrisies that have made cricket what it is: democratic and elitist, national and international, ancient and modern.
In a revealing scrutiny of the long saga of South Africa's exclusion from world cricket, Marqusee charts England's collusion with apartheid. Spectacularly failing the Tebbit test on every point, his eye-opening account of Pakistan's controversial 'ball-tampering' tour of England will provoke intense debate amongst cricket fans about the role of both the media and racism in the modern game.
From the phoney war over the omission of Gower from the England side to England's women cricketers receiving the World Cup outside the Lord's pavilion from which they are banned, Anyone But England goes where no cricket book has gone before. In so doing it sheds new light not only on cricket but also on what it means to be part of a nation for whom the game is well and truly up.