Book Review

A Leading Edge

Two former county cricketers turned cricket coaches have collaborated to write and illustrate their first book in a brand new series under the title, ‘A Leading Edge’. Wesley Durston, (Millfield School, Somerset CCC and Derbyshire CCC) and Patrick Latham (Kimbolton School, Somerset 2nd XI & Cambridgeshire CCC), coach hockey and cricket at Oakham School in Rutland. Both still play club cricket for rival clubs in the smallest county in England, Oakham Town CC and Uppingham Town CC respectively.


The pair have worked throughout 2018 on their first book, which is now available through Amazon and as an eBook and paperback. The book is a thought provoking look at the role of the captain, and draws on the career experiences of the two authors, supported by written contributions from a range of current and past cricket captains, coaches and umpires which appear throughout the book. ‘A Leading Edge for Captains’ was officially launched on Saturday 13th October at Compton Dundon Cricket Club’s 60th anniversary dinner, where Wesley was invited to speak about his career progression and life after professional cricket.


The idea for A Leading Edge came during the 2018 winter cricket programme at Oakham, where a young bowler had successfully transitioned from left arm seam to left arm wrist spin with a view to creating a role for himself in an U15 school team. It became apparent that the boy was at a complete loss as to how to set an effective field for his bowling, in order to give himself the best chance of success. In speaking to the other boys and girls at training, he was clearly not alone in his lack of understanding of this side of the game. Initially, Wesley and Patrick prepared field settings for the bowlers for left and right handers and for attacking and defensive fields, giving them all an easy reference and for them to memorise their own fields for the summer ahead. This starting point led to further discussion about the side of the game that is rarely coached, a side of the game that we often rely on young players learning either by osmosis as part of an adult club team or, if the child is very fortunate, to come from a cricketing family where the game is talked about at home. It became apparent that a book which offered an insight into this side of the game would definitely fill a niche in the market, where no similar series of books existed.


A Leading Edge for Captains is written with younger players who want to learn more about the finer points of the game in mind, but there is plenty inside the book for the club player or young professional looking to improve their understanding of cricket, learning from the professional’s point of view.


“We have been fortunate to be helped by some experienced cricketers, including foreword by Caroline Atkins (Durham MCCU & England), and quotes from Tom Abell (Somerset), Rob Bailey (Northamptonshire), Ed Young (Gloucestershire), Wayne Madsen (Derbyshire), Dean Hodgson (Gloucestershire) and Alec Swann (Northamptonshire/Lancashire) amongst others, who have all been kind enough to contribute their personal thoughts and stories on cricket captaincy. It was wonderful to have an influential female voice in Caroline Atkins to write the foreword for the book. We would like to acknowledge the considerable part that Caroline played, along with the female cricketers of her generation in building the foundations for the huge success and ever growing popularity we are seeing for women’s cricket today," said Patrick Latham.


Including illustrations by Patrick and running to over 150 pages, this paperback is the first in a series of ‘A Leading Edge’ books. With writing already underway for the second book, ‘Cricket: A Leading Edge for Bowlers’, and plans for similar books for batters and fielders in the pipeline, Wesley and Patrick have found a niche for a new type of cricket book which explains the previously unwritten side of the coaching of the ‘game’ rather than just repackaging the coaching of cricketing skills. Touching on topics such as formulating a plan, setting a field for different bowlers/situations/conditions, making tough decisions, spotting clues from the batter to inform your plan and communication with players on and off the field, this book is a must read, not just for aspiring leaders, but anyone who wants to develop their understanding of the game of cricket.


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