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It's an all-round display of cricketing fun

PUBLISHED: 16:27 29 December 2010

Going Bats in Norfolk: True Cricketing Tales from Keith Skipper. Pictured: Keith Skipper

Going Bats in Norfolk: True Cricketing Tales from Keith Skipper. Pictured: Keith Skipper

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Derek James reviews the latest book from Norfolk bumpkin and former cricket 'ace' Keith Skipper

As we celebrate England retaining the Ashes on the other side of the world, the boy from cowpat corner has emerged with his own fun-filled yarns from just up the road.

While the country is hooked on the frantic and fantastic Ashes action from bootiful Down Under, this fellow-me-lad has popped up from that damp corner of the Norfolk pitch which is splattered with doggy dos, dodgy rabbit holes and cattle calling-cards.

He is none other than top Norfolk bumpkin and former cricket “ace” Keith Skipper.

And his latest offering, Going Bats in Norfolk, is bound to raise a laugh and some warm memories on a cold and frosty night.

This is a charming look at the weird and wonderful world of Norfolk cricket and some of the colourful characters who have loved playing the game on our village greens over the years and the stories surrounding them – some may be even true!

And you don’t even have to love the game to enjoy this latest book from Keith – reading one is more like chatting to him over a pint in the local.

He writes with style about his “highly extinguished” playing career which, after years of under-achieving, gave way to his life as a journalist, broadcaster and reconteur.

“Throughout the 1970s I lived next door to the Lakenham county ground, a wonderful green lung in the middle of Norwich, and so could glance out of my bedroom window to check on playing progress or see who was in the first of the queue for the beer 
tent when rain swept in,” recalls Keith.

“I have enjoyed a grand knock as scorer, umpire, scribe, player (from boy called up in an emergency to captain as a tribute to turning up regularly), groundsman (pitch marker and boundary flag inserter), commentator (mostly on my bike as John Arlott), summariser (for Radio Norfolk) , post-match entertainer (Singing Postman numbers a speciality) and best cadger of free lifts on the Norfolk circuit,” he says.

In other words – a good all-rounder in every sense of the word.

Going Bats in Norfolk: True Cricketing Tales from Keith Skipper, “The Boy from Cowpat Corner” is published by Halsgrove at £12.99. It is in the shops or call 01823 653777.

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