The deputy editor of the Yorkshire Post has penned an evocative new book celebrating the paper’s legendary cricket writer Jim ‘JM’ Kilburn, left, who died 15 years ago this summer.
Kilburn covered cricket for the Post for more than 40 years, witnessing both Len Hutton’s then world record innings of 364 in 1938 and Yorkshire’s County Championship-winning glory years in the 1960s.
His writings recall the bygone days when 8,000 people watched Yorkshire’s County Championship matches, when journalists covering England’s Ashes tours travelled by ship with the players, and when neither coloured clothing nor one-day cricket existed.
Now the paper’s current deputy editor, Duncan Hamilton, has published a collection of his work entitled Sweet Summers: The Classic Cricket Writing of JM Kilburn with an introduction by another Yorkshire cricket legend – Geoffrey Boycott.
Said Duncan: “Kilburn is worth reading not only because he was a knowledgeable and respected interpreter of cricket – well balanced, tough-minded and scrupulously honest in his verdicts – but also for the valuable historical and social perspective that reading him provides.
“Kilburn cast light on to eras long gone – but which are deserving of more than just sentimental reflection. The easiest thing to say after reading him is: how times change.
“In 1934, when Kilburn began writing for the Yorkshire Post, Bradman effortlessly stroked 304 in the Headingley Test, Yorkshire’s daily attendance for County Championship matches nudged 8,000 and amateurs frequently enjoyed superior dressing room or hotel accommodation to professionals.”
“What fascinated Kilburn, and which illuminated his writing, were the technical aspects of cricket and the disparate skills and characters involved in its pure, hard combat.”
In his introduction, Boycott writes: “When I was growing up in Fitzwilliam, television didn’t dominate cricket in the way it does today. If I wanted to know what was happening at Headingley, I turned to the Bible of Yorkshire cricket – the Yorkshire Post and Jim’s report, which was read like scripture throughout the county.”
The book also contains contributions from other leading cricket writers, commentators and players including Dickie Bird, Richie Benaud, Christopher Martin-Jenkins, Brian Close, Ray Illingworth, Harry Gration and Don Wilson.
Duncan has already scored a publishing success with an earlier book, Provided You Don’t Kiss Me: 20 Years with Brian Clough which won the 2007 William Hill award.
Sweet Summers: The Classic Cricket Writing of JM Kilburn is published by Great Northern Books www.greatnorthernbooks.co.uk priced £16.99.