All Out Cricket (UK)
Book of the Month Review - August 2008
The posthumously published magnum opus of the late Bob Woolmer is certain to attract interest across the cricketing community. Completed in the months after Woolmer's untimely death by co-author Dr Tim Noakes, a sports scientist at the University of Cape Town who worked with the coach during his time with South Africa, this extensive manual is not only unique for the expertise of its authors, but in its erudite and original explanation of cricket as an 'all-round' endeavour that examines the mental and physical abilities of those that aim to master the game.
Divided into four sections (discovering the game, technique, developing cricket and cricket science) the work is as extensive a piece of literature as one would expect from a man who pioneered the use of digital media and tactical aids and, more generally, believed in unearthing every ounce of advantage for the players and sides he put on the park. But although it runs a fine toothcomb over every element of the game, the book is not overly prescriptive - it does not seek to provide a one-size-fits-all formula for success - but rather offers a range of methods by which to test and train. Similarly, any advice is offered with extensive justification and explanation and superb diagrams and photography (using real cricketers such as Jonty Rhodes, Jacques Kallis and Allan Donald) are liberally employed to make the substantial theorising more digestible.
In time, this 655-pager could become recognised as the book on the science of the game. The work is set to become an instant classic, both as a coaching text at all levels of the game and as a fascinating memorial to the life of one of the game's most respected figures. In the absence of an updated autobiography the Art and Science of Cricket will stand as the ultimate documentary of Bob Woolmer's appreciation and love of the game. It is to be hoped that this work will inspire and educate future generations of cricketers and coaches.
District Mail (SA)
Book Review - August 2008
“Bob Woolmer’s art and science of cricket”, with a foreword by Richie Benaud, Bob Woolmer, Tim Noakes with Helen Moffett, Struik Publishers is certain to become the definitive manual on cricket. This book represents the groundbreaking partnership between international cricket coach, Bob Woolmer, and world-renowned sports scientist Tim Noakes, who combined their skills to create a true all-rounder of a book. Their vision: to teach future generations of players and coaches how to find, nurture and polish talent – both mental and physical – and to embrace a culture of thinking and innovation in the great game. This book reflects Bob Woolmer’s dedication to these aims and his passion for sharing his love of the art and science of cricket. Lavishly illustrated, with techniques demonstrated by some of Bob’s most famous proteges, this is an invaluable source of wisdom, behind-the-scenes insights, and tips from some of the game’s greatest players and characters. There are also batting, bowling, fielding and wicket-keeping techniques illustrated in dynamic photo sequences as well as unique insights on mental skills and cricketing lore for all lovers of the game - from children to fans to Test stars. It also includes Bob Woolmer’s personal philosophies on coaching, captaincy and game strategy and cutting-edge research on the science and medicine of cricket. Bob Woolmer was considered as the most forward-thinking coach in international cricket at the time of his tragic death at the 2007 World Cup. He played at the highest levels of the game, from county to the Packer circus and the Test arena, but it was as a coach that he created an enduring legacy, whether with the South African and Pakistan national teams, as High Performance Manager for the International Cricket Council, or as motivator and mentor for township clubs in South Africa. Other contributions in this book are from Professor Tim Noakes, co-founded the Sports Science Institute of South Africa, and who is the Discovery Health Professor of Exercise and Sports Science at the University of Cape Town. He also directs the UCT/Medical Research Council Exercise Science and Sports Medicine Research Unit. An A-rated scientist, he is the author of four editions of Lore of Running (the ‘runner’s Bible’). He takes a keen interest in cricket-related research. Dr Helen Moffett is a freelance writer, academic and avid cricket fan, and has lectured all over the world on the social, political and cultural aspects of the game. She has co-produced two films on cricket and nation-building in South Africa, and is the first woman to have been invited to give the Sir Frank Worrell Memorial Lecture in the West Indies.
Independent on Sunday (UK)
Book of the Week Review by Simon Redfern - August 2008
It is doubtless a coincidence that this labour of love, 10 years in the writing, was published just before England commenced their renaissance with Kevin Pietersen at the helm, but undoubtedly players and captains at all levels can learn from it. Woolmer, who had practically completed the book before his sad death during the 2007 World Cup, intended it to be far more than a mere coaching manual, though that section benefits from his considerable experience and innovatory thinking. His aim was to cover all aspects of the game, including selection, strategy, psychology, fitness and physiology, and with the help of two academics, Dr Helen Moffett and Professor Tim Noakes, a sports scientist, he succeeded triumphantly. Everything from the mysteries of swing to sledging and spinal injuries is analysed in this hefty tome (656 pages), with a price to match, but for players and fans alike it is value for money. Just try to keep it out of the hands of the opposition. Published by New Holland in large-format hardback, £30
Observer Sport Monthly (UK)
Extract of the Month - August 2008
'Cricket is not hard work. Drilling for eight hours a day two kilometres underground in a South African gold mine is hard work. Cricket is stressful. nerve-wracking, and mentally and physically exhausting: but it is always a pleasure.' The late Bob Woolmer offers some advice to complaining cricket pros
Spin Magazine (UK)
Book Review - September 2008
A FITTING EPITAPH
Bob Woolmer’s posthumously released encyclopaedia of cricket is a magnificent memorial to a great coach.
THIS IS THE BOOK Bob Woolmer was working on when he died so tragically at the World Cup in March 2007: at the time, there was speculation that it may even have been connected in some way with his death, possibly because it included some tell-all account of cricket's match-fixing problems.
As it turns out, match-fixing is about the only thing not included in this magnificent encyclopaedia of tactics and techniques that would seem to render much of existing cricket literature obsolete.
It is, in short, the culmination of a lifetime working in, and loving, cricket. Indeed, the book itself – which runs to nearly 700 pages – has been over a decade in preparation. Woolmer's knowledge and ideas are presented within a clean easy-to-read design, full of graphics, illustrations and must-read sidebars.
Frame-by-frame photography featuring Jacques Kallis, Jonty Rhodes, Allan Donald and Kamran Akmal outline batting, fielding, bowling and keeping techniques. But this is so much more than a young player's guide. Rather, it is an innovative mix of bedtime-read miscellany and a survey of science as applied to cricket.
Psychology and captaincy are given their due, alongside a number of subjects that the MCC Coaching Guide might ignore: the effects of sex on performance (and how to deal with cricket groupies) and the history of the reverse sweep, for instance. The Art and Science of Cricket's sweep is further boosted by the inclusion of previously-published nuggets from other sources: Richie Benaud's five tips for howling spin, for example, or Prof Mehta's tables and diagrams on exactly how and why a ball swings.
Sections of the book are built around academic debates: you won't be surprised to know that PhD students have looked into exactly how, if at all, bad light affects a batsman's reaction times; but, more surprisingly, Woolmer and co also draw on research on exactly when a nightwatchman should be sent in.
The science bits thoroughly intriguing and never less than readable: even the complex graphs plotting leading batters' 'risk of getting out' against their strike rate, to show an 'efficiency frontier' that 'proves' the best-value ODI performer - even these are brilliant, despite an initial impenetrability.
Questions are posed: why are the largely self-taught methods of Sir Donald Bradman, cricket's greatest-ever player, not followed more widely or, indeed, at all? The usual answer is that Bradman had superhuman powers of hand-eye co-ordination, so that his unorthodox techniques – in terms of grip and back-lift – would not be suitable everyone. Woolmer and his co-authors are not so sure. They suggest that cricket coaches have been enslaved by orthodoxy and that many of the approaches now tried by T20 ‘innovators’ were in fact fact stock shots of Bradman's 75 years ago.
Other debates are stirred by the work of Woolmer's co-author, Prof Tim Noakes who, in the early 1980s, found that a top-class batter could still hit 70 per cent of deliveries even if the lights in the indoor nets were switched off on point of release from the bowling machine.
This is a wide-ranging guide to every facet of cricket that will illuminate even the newest spectator's enjoyment – and provide new ideas and insight and entertainment for all involved in cricket, bar none. It's a fitting epitaph to Bob Woolmer and his love of and passion for the game. Duncan Steer
In a nutshell
Legendary coach puts a lifetime’s learning in a crisp, easy-to-read cricket encyclopaedia
No – unless you count Woolmer’s pondering the effects of sex on a player’s performance
Sports Illustrated (SA)
Book Review - September 2008
While there might be confusion surrounding the untimely death of Bob Woolmer, no-one will be confused when it comes down to his credentials as a cricket coach. The guy was simply oustanding, arguably the best ever. Bob Woolmer's Art and Science of Cricket teaches you how to coach cricket the Woolmer way. With photo illustrations by Allan Donald and Jonty Rhodes, among others, it's clear that Woolmer identified the best way of doing things, and gathered the perfect examples for youngsters to follow. This book is tipped to become the cricket coach's Bible in the next few years.