While anyone who has ever heard live commentary on cricket matches knows that it is certainly a bona fide literary genre in itself (I grew up listening to the likes of the almost-Nobel-deserving Omar Qureishi, and the more restrained but nevertheless brilliant Chishti Mujahid), Sarah Crompton points out in the Telegraph that there is a dearth of literary treatments of cricket in fiction:
When Radio 4’s Front Row started to draw up a Literary 11, it got to a Literary 23 within a day – and that was without mentioning Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, a massive fan who played for the MCC and once bowled the great WG Grace.
It did find space at 12th man for Samuel Beckett, the only winner of a Nobel prize to make an appearance in Wisden, but he was disqualified from the Front Row team proper because he never wrote about cricket. Tom Stoppard, on the other hand, got to open the batting by dint of his love for the sport and a speech in The Real Thing that compares good and bad writing to a cricket bat.
Harold Pinter made it into the team, not for his own descriptions of the thwack of leather on willow but for the way he made the cricket match a central feature in his adaptation of L P Hartley’s The Go-Between for cinema. Terence Rattigan is also in there, for a feeble screenplay for a long-forgotten 1953 film called The Final Test.