Labour of love leads to a fascinating book

'Oundle: The Gentle Hotbead' by Andrew Radd.
'Oundle: The Gentle Hotbead' by Andrew Radd.

So what do WG Grace, Clark Gable and current ECB chief executive Tom Harrison have in common?

They all make an appearance in a new book ‘Oundle: The Gentle Hotbed’ detailing the history of cricket in the local market town.

It’s a real labour of love for renowned local cricket journalist and broadcaster Andrew Radd, a man who these days can be found scoring for Oundle Town’s Northants Premier Division cricket team, once he has figured out how to turn his laptop on.

Radd hasn’t boldly gone where no journalist has gone before by making ECB chief executive Harrison - or ‘Hatchet-man Harrison’ as one tabloid labelled him - open up on KP, Cook and Piers, but this isn’t really that sort of book.

Harrison was one of many fine players to have passed through Oundle School and it’s history and achievement rather than scandal that Radd has researched. And it’s no less fascinating as a result.

Radd set out trying to prove that Oundle Town CC was formed in 1826 making it the oldest club in the Northants Cricket League.

It was and they are, but Radd’s curiosity was now piqued and the result is a book that leaves no waters unchartered and no story untold about cricket in Oundle - the school as well as the club as the close links they share have obvious benefits for both.

Radd has an easy, uncomplicated style which suits the sport, as well as the place, he loves. He’s unearthed some gems which should interest even those not particularly interested in Oundle as a market town or cricket as a sport.

Spoilers should always be avoided, but I didn’t know WG Grace claimed the 200th ton of his career at Oundle School, or that Hollywood heartthrob Clark Gable made a wartime visit. I also didn’t know that singer/songwriter/left-wing activist Billy Bragg once lived in Oundle, a fact that must have led to some interesting debates in the Ship and the Talbot.

‘Oundle: The Gentle Hotbed, cricket in an English market town’ is available in hardback (£20) or paperback (£10) from Michele Seymour, The Oundle Society, The Stables, Cobthorne, West Street, Oundle, PE8 4EF. All proceeds are going to the Oundle Foundation.