Favourite Thinkers V: Gideon Haigh

Highlights of the cricket World Cup make pretty good late night TV if you are sitting up late tending a new born. It’s about as much of this tournament that one really needs. I’ve come to the conclusion that the only reason that cricket is worth taking notice of anymore is because it provides the background for reading Mike Selvey in The Guardian, and especially for reading Gideon Haigh. Haigh’s Ashes 2011 is just published, barely a month after the end of the series – since he wasn’t writing for The Guardian, this is doubly worth it. It even contains the phrase ‘epistemological case study’ with reference to Ricky Ponting. I’ve also been reading Haigh’s latest collection of essays, Spheres of Influence, actually published by Melbourne University Press. It is mainly concerned with the institutional context of contemporary international cricket, and starts with a wonderful 60 page analysis of how India has come to dominate world cricket economically, written in a whirlwind style. Haigh is great at skewering the self-importance of cricket’s personality led culture; but he is really excellent at exposing the political economy of the game – that’s what this book does, reminding you that he was/is a business journalist, a vocation evident in his analyses of the Packer revolution or of the economics of early international cricket tours through the figure of Warwick Armstrong. The silliness that cricket has become is redeemed by this sort of writing and analysis.