The Cricketer in Winter

Is there anything in sport more melancholy than the English cricketer when the long winter begins? Jon Hotten - The Old Batsman himself - looks back on his efforts in the summer of 2014... After one of my worst seasons ever with the bat last year, I began 2014 by scoring ... Read More...

The sheer unlikeliness of CB Fry

'His party trick was to jump backwards onto a mantelpiece from a standing position'. Jon Hotten salutes the incomparable sporting Renaissance man, CB Fry... John Arlott called him 'the most variously gifted Englishman of any age,' and Arlott, conjuring his musty magic from an old typewriter set next a glass of ... Read More...

World Cup Preview

Word Cup fever has reached The Dabbler! Here's Frank's complete guide to the foopball tournament... Next week sees the beginning of the 2014 World Cup foopball tournament, What this consists of, for the uninitiated, is a few weeks during which men in shorts run around grassy fields, huffing and puffing and ... Read More...

Ghost grounds

Jon Hotten on memory, dreams and cricket pitches... It's hard to write about a feeling as elusive as this one, yet it's that elusiveness that makes it both rare and worthwhile. It happened the other day, for the first time in a couple of years. I was driving through a town ... Read More...

The Spinner’s Web

Amongst the most shocking moments of England's shocking Ashes series this winter was the sudden mid-tour retirement of Graeme Swann, one of the country's greatest ever spin bowlers. Here, Jon Hotten examines the mysteries of the spinner's art, and what Swanny leaves behind... Decades ago on a Saturday afternoon in winter ... Read More...

Dabbler Diary – Janus Face

“Happy New Year!” we say to one another, but do we say it in optimistic expectation or in fearful hopes: beseeching Fate that 2014 is not the year when one’s ordained calamity strikes? A bit of both, but increasingly the latter as we accumulate more new years, I suppose. We ... Read More...

The end of the season

Cricket is a cruel game, and then you get too old to play it. So why do old cricketers keep going, despite it all? Jon Hotten explains... The end of the season is almost here, with its rain and with its retirements, with its shadows that fall longways across the ground ... Read More...

The Edwardian Football Hooligans

Football fan violence was far from an invention of the 1980s... It’s one of the most extraordinary and tantalizing facts of our time. Take out all the estimated-to-be-drug-related activity out of the crime figures, and what you are left with are the gentle, pacific, Marpleian levels of fair-cop crime enjoyed in ... Read More...