A fascinating account of how two BBC broadcasters battled for the soul of English cricket during a time of great social change
For more than a quarter of a century after the Second World War, two of the instantly recognisable English voices were commentators on games of cricket. BBC broadcasters John Arlott (1914-1991) and E.W. ( Jim ') Swanton (1906-2000) were for many years the dominant voices of English cricket. For any cricket follower in his fifties or older, just the mention of their names immediately evokes a flood of memories.
Swanton was born into a middle-class family and privately educated; Arlott was the son of a working-class council employee. Because of their strong personalities and distinctive voices Swanton 's, crisp and authoritative, and Arlott 's with its unique Hampshire burr each had a loyal following in the post-war years, when England 's class system had a slot for almost everyone.
As the BBC tightened its grip on the national consciousness, their voices revealed mannerisms and prejudices which transformed the broadcasting of the nation 's summer game into a national institution. Arlott, Swanton and the Soul of English Cricket is a detailed account of how these two very different men, who seldom warmed to each other, reported on and sought to influence a game that was changing as society at large was also changing.