For a brief period, permit your imagination to overrule your logical thinking and visualize a bright sunny afternoon at LORD’S where you are sitting among thousands of human heads in the gallery, in eager anticipation of glimpsing the pair of Leigh Hunt and William Hazlitt walking out to the middle and turning their mojo on the crowd not with pens but with bats in their hands. From the bowler’s end would run in a certain Charles Lamb, and bowl his gentle medium pace to ruffle his two celebrated contemporaries. The Press Box is lit up too; thanks to the efforts of Mr. Jingle who doesn’t want to leave any stone unturned to enthral the Television spectators by providing a running commentary on the game, steeped in hilarious anecdotes which are uniquely his own. In the midst of the on-field excitement, one could notice the cameras of the Television crew peeping into the LORD’S balcony. Ah! Isn’t that Sir Arthur Conan Doyle? Yes it is! The Captain of Hunt and Hazlitt has almost no nail left in his hands! After all, his combatants are struggling big time against Lamb’s shrewd bowling. ‘’What do you make of the proceedings in the middle Richie?’’, Mr. Jingle asks his fellow commentator in his quirky voice. The man sitting next to the speaker needs no introduction however. Television sets across the globe now reverberate together as Richie Benaud picks up the microphone and exclaims, ‘’From the broadcasting box, you can’t see enough runs on the scoreboard, nor can you notice tenough nails in Sir Arthur’s hands. So grim is the situation out there in the middle!’’.
The string of events mentioned above might be wrapped up in a fantasy shell, but the game of cricket has traditionally had a long and cherished association with the world of fiction. While the likes of Hunt, Hazlitt, Sir Arthur and Lamb have never dabbled in the application of cricket in their respective works, there are certain stories featuring cricket that have been heartily accepted by the public; largely because of the sheer dexterity with which the authors have accommodated the ‘Gentleman’s Game’ within the confinements of their books. In this feature, we compile a list of twelve meticulously crafted novels which have stood the test of time and established an unbreakable relationship with cricket. The list covers quite a wide timespan from the Victorian period to the present Post Modern period.