Monday, 2 May 2016

Absolutely Foxed

From time to time, you get a book and you just can't put it down. Those nice chaps at Simon and Schuster sent me Absolutely Foxed and they took up two days of my life. However, the autobiography of Graeme Fowler has enriched my experience of not only cricket but of life too. This will be the cricket book of the year. A book that takes you to the boundaries of emotions at times, it is brilliantly written and totally engages the reader.

Firstly, I am biased in my reviews on Fowler. I have got to know him over the last few years firstly interviewing him via Melanoma UK and then he was the one who originally got me commentating. An invite to Test Match Sofa which was the predecessor to Guerilla Cricket followed our interview and Foxy tells me to call him for a chat now and again. When we do speak, a myriad of absolute bollocks (albeit hilarious bollocks) and the odd sensible conversation permeates; it shows the many facets to the Fowler personality. This openness, accessibility and transparency defines the man and the book. It is honest and forthright, funny at times and heart string tuggingly sad at others. Like Fowler, who describes himself as the dressing room clown but with a lot more to him than that. I'm not the only one who loves Fowler as a bloke and a cricketer as the foreword is written by his good mate, Sir Ian Botham.

I'd read Fox on the Run which was his eighties memoirs and that was a book of two halves. The climb up the ladder to an England place and the harrowing year of 1985 showing a sportsman suffering from injury and not knowing if his career would last. This one looks at his whole career, his post career and then life as head coach at Durham University MCCU; a cornucopia of talent production for English cricket. It also tackles the harsh reality of depression along with a plethora of life subjects in between.

Fowler on his way to 201 in India

Fowler was one of my favourite players. A stylish left handed opener, he had balls in spades and his hundred against one of the finest sides to ever set foot on a cricket field in the 1984 West Indians showed he wasn't just a substitute for the apartheid banned Gooch. He was the first Englishman to score a double hundred in India, yet his international career almost withered on the vine after that due to an old injury from a car crash in 1979. A life that had taken him from the Lancashire League to partying with Elton John suddenly was about to be taken away from him.

Foxy doesn't shy away from anything in this book and you can see that is why he has been a fantastic coach. There must be something in the water in Accrington as it is also why people responded to David Lloyd as a coach too. They understand life, they understand cricket and they understand people. Aside from a chapter on his ex team mate Bumble, difficult subjects from Fowler's mental health, to messy divorces, to tabloid attention, to rows at Lancashire CCC are all covered. Twitter has been fantastic for him and his mental health. His often unorthodox ways of dealing with coaching players are covered here and again defines Fowler. The book is delivered with Lancastrian humour but with a serious message behind it, Absolutely Foxed epitomises the man.

A stylish opening bat

This book will make you laugh, it will make you cry, it will make you think about life. For Foxy (as he was christened by Bob Willis although he insists on calling him Graeme now), this book is an open look into the mind of someone who has had the highs of the success of an international sportsman and the depths and lows of someone suffering so badly with depression that they cut the cord with communicating to the outside world. It covers deep subjects such as other family members dealing with someone that they adore, struggling with mental health issues. It's a must for any cricket fan out there.

As mentioned earlier, I'm biased as I like Fowler but a hell of a lot of people do. Not just his own family that this book shows his love shining through to, but the whole cricket family too. He deserves to spend the rest of his life with a smile on his face and the sun on his back.

And as he would say, "a MH of 20".

1 comment:

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