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The Vincibles

This book is about a typical season with a typical Melbourne suburban cricket club written by acclaimed cricket writer and South Yarra Cricket Club life member Gideon Haigh.  Although based on the happenings at South Yarra Cricket Club, the stories and events are universal and would be comparable with any grassroots cricket club throughout Australia or overseas.

The Vincibles is a very funny and readable book – makes the ideal Christmas gift for any cricket lover!


For copies of this cracking read please email Gideon Haigh directly and he wil be able to forward on accordingly.

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The Vincibles was obviously a departure for me.  I think every book I’ve written has been a departure from those before it, but this one clearly broke new ground, insofar as I was in it, rather than simply having my name on the cover.  It would never have occured to me to undertake the task had it not been for a conversation in the cafeteria of the Guardian newspaper in 2001, when the sports editor Ben Clissit, after my coverage of the Ashes series, asked if I’d like to write from Australia.  ‘Thanks,’ I said.  ‘But summer’s for playing, not watching.’  I explained my commitments at SYCC - selection, Sentinel, trivia, karaoke etc.  ‘How about writing us a column about your club then?’ he said.  I went: ‘Weeeelllll....’


There were good reasons to do nothing of a kind.  One obvious disincentive was that it would require the revelation of my essential crapness.  But hey, that was no secret at Como Park, and where else did it matter?  I thought longer about the idea of turning pleasure - not only my pleasure, but other people’s - into work.  I am very into the idea of doing stuff for its own sake.  I don’t think we do it enough.  This club is a bit of my life where I’m not a journalist, don’t have to be and don’t want to be.  One of my comrades was driving me home after training last season and said: ‘It’s funny, you know, you having the same name as that writer.’  I said: ‘Funny old world, innit?’  I had no desire to make the Yarras into grist for my mill.

So why do it?  Well, of course, I’m a good and simple patriot who’s proud of my club.  I like people knowing its name.  I enjoyed it when Baz the Pom, who’s a Mercantile CA ump, said to me: ‘My mates read your column in England.  Just wait till I tell ‘em that I’ve umpired t’famous Yarras at t’famous Como Park’.  I didn’t, of course, enjoy it quite so much when he improved the story by gunning me lbw, the ball having hit me in the left knacker: good on ya Baz.

Above all, though, this club is a story.  What you’re looking for in a story is something both unique and representative of a type.  We’re in it.  Of course, at a certain level, The Vincibles is about boys being boys, cricketers being cricketers and umpires being blind.  Plus, it must be said, a certain amount of gratuitous toilet humour, along with a few of the better rationalisations I can think of for being hit for six, all of which I have used.


But this obscures a point verging on the serious.  In our daily lives, we have a lot to do with institutions that make us feel powerless, voiceless, helpless.  Political institutions.  Commercial institutions.  Financial institutions.  Religious institutions.  Media institutions.  It’s easy to think: What does it matter what I do?  What influence can I possibly have?


That, I think, is why this club matters to me.  I can contribute here.  I can enjoy myself, and aid in others’ enjoying themselves.  I can play a part in creating the culture, building the tradition, ensuring the future. I can make a difference.  And hey, you can too.  Buy a bloody book.  Greenpeace and Amnesty International - admirable causes I grant you.  But, just for the moment, let’s leave the lesser spotted grebe and the dissident writer from Myanmar with the electrodes attached to his nuts to take care of themselves, shall we?  Get into The Vincibles.  We do.

-Gideon Haigh



"When you bump into people who know Gideon Haigh they will tell you about his encyclopedic knowledge of cricket, his dedication to detail and his casualness with money. I want to add to this list of his idiosyncrasies a delicious ability to turn the mundane into the magnificent. For this is exactly what The Vincibles is to we weekend warriors - a magnificent vindication of our very existence...Brilliant."

- Warwick Hadfield, Australian Book Review

"Cricket writers worth their salt are few and far between, and Gideon Haigh is one of the best...he has now written about the soul of the game – suburban cricket. The Vincibles is a hilariously dry, up-close-and-personal account of a season with Haigh's local club, The Yarras…..Haigh does for amateur sport what John Birmingham did for share-housing."

- The Age

"Beyond the glare of the media, there's another cricket. Gideon Haigh writes brilliantly about the first level and plays at the other - he's "vice-president, chairman of selectors, newsletter editor, karaoke impresario and trivia quizmaster" of South Yarra Cricket Club and likes to believe enchantment is still possible amid amateur chaos."

- Weekend Australian


"A delightful book. Haigh writes with a deft touch and his humour is brought to us from the cheekiness of a slips cordon to the laconism of long on."

- Sunday Tasmania

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