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First of the Summer Wine

UK Publisher: Simon & Schuster

The remarkable story of three Yorkshire cricketers from the Golden Age – George Hirst, Wilfred Rhodes and Schofield Haigh – who transformed their county’s fortunes, inspired a generation of cricketers and left a unique legacy on the game.

Between them, Hirst, Rhodes and Haigh scored over 77,000 runs and took almost 9,000 wickets in a combined 2,500 appearances, helping Yorkshire to seven County Championship triumphs. The records they set will never be beaten, yet the three men – known throughout England as The Triumvirate – were born in two small villages just outside Huddersfield. Hirst pioneered and perfected the art of swing and seam bowling, Rhodes took more first-class wickets than anyone else in history, while the genial Haigh’s achievements as a bowler at Yorkshire have been surpassed only by his two close friends; their influence would extend far beyond England, as they all went to India to coach, laying the foundations of cricket in the subcontinent.

Pearson, whose biography of Learie Constantine won the MCC Book of the Year Award, brings the characters and the age vividly to life, showing how these cricketing stars came to symbolise the essence of Yorkshire. This was a time when the gritty northern professionals from the White Rose county took on some of the most glittering amateurs of the age, including W. G. Grace, C. B. Fry, Prince Ranji and Gilbert Jessop, and when writers such as Neville Cardus and J. M. Kilburn were on hand to bring their achievements to a wider audience.

First of the Summer Wine is a celebration of a vanished age, but also reveals how the efforts of Hirst, Rhodes and Haigh helped create the modern era, too.

Harry Pearson was born in 1961 in a village near Middlesbrough. He was educated by kindly Quakers. An early attempt...