The Nightwatchman Podcast

Written and hosted by Jon Hotten, produced and edited by James Wallace. Sponsored by Rathbones.

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Episodes

Wednesday May 18, 2022

Guests: Tom Holland, Osman Samiuddin and Jarrod Kimber Is cricket mysterious? Well its origins are. We sort of know where it comes from – trap ball and stick ball and other games of the middle ages. And people have been hitting things with sticks since time began. Jon and guests dig into the mysterious origins of the game and also discuss other topics such as: Are numbers the way in which we will finally crack the mysteries of the game? and... The great batsman have mystique, but only the bowlers truly have mystery?    The Nightwatchman Podcast Written and hosted by Jon Hotten Produced and edited by James Wallace Sponsored by Rathbones   Osman's writing can be found here and his book about the history of Pakistani cricket 'The Unquiet Ones' is available here  Tom Holland's latest book Dominion is OUT NOW Keep up with Jarrod's many projects here  

Wednesday May 18, 2022

Guests:  Marcus Berkman, Sam Perry and Tim Key In November 1970, Fred Trueman, newly retired from first class cricket, appeared in Dad’s Army. The episode was called The Test, and Trueman was, somewhat predictably, cast as the demon fast bowler EC Egan, recruited by Warden Hodges for a grudge match against Captain Mainwaring’s Home Guard. The joy of the episode is that, as the viewer, you know long before the game begins what kind of cricketers each of the characters will turn out to be. Mainwaring, Pike, Godfrey, Jones and Frazer play exactly as you’d expect, as of course does John le Mesurier’s wonderfully fey sergeant Wilson – he of course bats as effortlessly as he does everything else. Lots of British sitcoms feature a cricket episode, because the game itself says something - it’s a shorthand for a certain kind of Englishness. The village green is a familiar stage and the game is full of archetypes that don’t need to be explained. Above all, it has the potential for disaster, humiliation or triumph – that, after all, is cricket’s canvas. It leads us to the question is cricket funny? Is humour instrinsic to its creation? Some of its earliest literature features the comedy of humiliation – run-outs and dropped catches. The amateur game is ripe with it, the pros too have their brushes with ignimony along with victory and defeat. Players, commentators and hacks getting it wrong is part of the fun. But is there more to it than that? Jon tries to get to the bottom of whether cricket is in fact funny by speaking to Markus Berkmann, author of Rain Men, The Grade Cricketer's Sam Perry and Perrier (Edinburgh) award winning comedian, actor and poet - Tim Key.   The Nightwatchman Podcast Written and hosted by Jon Hotten Produced and edited by James Wallace Sponsored by Rathbones   Find out more about The Grade Cricketer  Get hold of Marcus' book Rain Men Tim Key's books He Used Thought As A Wife and All Around The Mulberry Bush as well as his poetical playing cards are all available here  

Wednesday May 18, 2022

Guests:  Gideon Haigh, Mark Ramprakash and B3 bat-maker Michael Blatherwick The symbiotic relationship between batter and bat is perhaps not surprising – in a team game, the batter stands alone, and the bat is all they have to hold on to. We’ll investigate how its simple shape, unchanged for a hundred years, has become objectified, turned into epic pieces of wood that are designed, built and marketed to make you feel that you can hit the bowler onto the stadium roof – or in the case of us club players, into the nearby pub car park at least.  Jon talks to Mark Ramprakash, one of only 25 players in the history of the game to make a hundred hundreds in first class cricket , about the secret to making a century... He also chats to master bat-maker Michael Blatherwick and to Gideon Haigh, the pre-eminent writer but also keen amateur player of the game. The Nightwatchman Podcast Written and hosted by Jon Hotten Produced and edited by James Wallace Sponsored by Rathbones

Wednesday May 18, 2022

Guests: Daniel Norcross and Isabelle Westbury Long before the game was written about it’s safe to say it was talked about. There’s something about cricket’s ruminative spaces that allows room for language, and the language through which we understand the game grew as it was spoken about on radio and written about in newspapers and books. It’s very hard to divide the two, and they have become even more entwined in the age of social media. The voice was once homogenised, a BBC sort of language that nonetheless offered a framework we could all understand. Now the range of voices are dizzying, from the terrifying banter of the ex-pros lined up in the channel seven Big Bash booth to the rise of the home podcaster. All you need to get your opinion on the air is a microphone and an internet connection – and that is a great, democratising force. Jon and guests explore how we talk about the game and what that actually means, and what implications it has for how we understand and interpret cricket.   The Nightwatchman Podcast Written and hosted by Jon Hotten Produced and edited by James Wallace Sponsored by Rathbones

Wednesday May 18, 2022

Guests: With Tanya Aldred and Vithushan Ehantharajah Twitter began in 2006. By 2007, it was hosting 400,000 tweets per quarter. A year later it was 100m. A year after that, it was fifty million per day, and sometimes, if Tendulkar was batting perhaps, a million or so of those were about cricket. Twitter, instagram, the over by over news reports and below the line comment offered new avenues for immediacy, but posed the question, how do you report on a game that the audience has been discussing in real time? In an arena when an hour sometimes feels like a year, what kind of long-form writing can prosper? In this episode Jon speaks to Vithushan Ehantharajah, one of the most distinctive and original voices of this new and uncertain era, as lethal with 140 characters or a David Brent meme as he can be contemplative and deeply readable over a several thousand words. He also talks to Tanya Aldred, one of the very best writers on the game since she began in 1996, about her early experiences as a female cricket writer, the culture of the press box and whether cricket is yet to have its #MeToo moment.   The Nightwatchman Podcast Written and hosted by Jon Hotten Produced and edited by James Wallace Sponsored by Rathbones

Wednesday May 18, 2022

Guests: Scyld Berry and David Woodhouse We tend to take the concept of the tour for granted, yet is it not one of cricket’s strangest phenomena? Devised on Victorian timescales of months at sea followed by a lengthy navigation of distant lands, the notion feels increasingly at odds with modern life. So bound up is cricket with travel that the centrally contracted England player will spend no more than a couple of months each year in their own bed, producing a carbon footprint more like Orwell’s boot stamping on a human face forever. And yet the tour offers the game much of its romance, its exocticism, its thrill.  The variety of experience, the difference in everything from the pitches to the crowd noise, the chance to see and understand something of how the rest of the world lives and plays, offer cricket a richness that other sport don’t have. Much of the game’s myth making and camaraderie comes from being thrown together, a travelling circus of players, families, coaches, support staff and media.  In this episode Jon speaks to Scyld Berry, one of the game’s foremost writers for many decades, the Telegraph’s chief cricket correspondent and a former editor of Wisden Almanack. He also speaks to David Woodhouse about one tour in particular - England’s tour of West Indies in 1953/4, a tour that Len Hutton, who because the first professional to captain England overseas, said ‘shortened his career by two years’, to which the tour player/manager Charles Palmer replied, ‘I’m surprised he only said two’. David's book Who Only Cricket Know is available here Scyld's book Beyond The Boundaries is available here    The Nightwatchman Podcast Written and hosted by Jon Hotten Produced and edited by James Wallace Sponsored by Rathbones

Wednesday May 18, 2022

Guest: Mike Brearley Jon talks to Mike Brearley about whether there is there such a thing as the spirit of cricket? After all, if the spirit of cricket exists in our physical world, it is as a single paragraph that prefaces the current edition of the Laws of the game. And from its inception, cricket seems to have been open to different moral interpretations. Its early years saw a sport full of skulduggery, gambling and general notoriety, frowned upon by the church and the crown for filling the pubs on a Sunday. It was the Victorians who adopted it as a symbol of virtue, and Christian fair play, developing an image and language that offered the game a new kind of morality even as its empire exported British superiority around the globe. The story of cricket is still in many ways the story of empire. And Cricket is played by Muslims, Hindus, Christians, atheists… even by Australians. Is there a single spirit that can unite and define us all? Mike's book The Spirit of Cricket - Reflections on Play and Life is available here   The Nightwatchman Podcast Written and hosted by Jon Hotten Produced and edited by James Wallace Sponsored by Rathbones

Wednesday May 18, 2022

Guest: Michael Atherton Jon talks to Michael Atherton, a man who has held two of the great offices of the game, that of England men’s captain and cricket correspondent of the Times, a unique double, and one that he rounds off as one of Sky’s commentators. Plenty of former players jump across into media, but it’s hard to think of any since perhaps Richie Benaud that have embraced their second life in the way that Mike has. If he mentions his playing days its with a kind of wry smile, and perhaps that has something to do with the age in which he played? In this episode, Mike talks candidly to Jon about life on both sides of the boundary rope.  The Nightwatchman Podcast Written and hosted by Jon Hotten Produced and edited by James Wallace Sponsored by Rathbones  

Thursday Jun 23, 2022

A special LIVE edition of The Nightwatchman Podcast recorded at the central London offices of our sponsors, Rathbones.    Host Jon Hotten is joined by acclaimed writers (and amateur cricketers) Sebastian Faulks and Tom Holland for a discussion about all things cricketing and literary. 

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