Tuesday, 8 November 2011

Let Me In

Cricketers will need no encouragement from Fantasy Bob to see the latest cinematic adaptation of Emily Bronte's classic cricketing novel Wittering Heights.

Real art - the hardest to read
 poster in cinema history
Despite the novel's most famous line 'Let me in' indicating a batsmen fancying the bowling on offer, previous movie versions have inexplicably chosen to downplay the cricketing aspects of the novel.  So, in the 1939 version with Laurence Olivier and Merle Oberon, neither of the principal characters was seen at net practice at any point and in the 1992 version with Ralph Fiennes there was no indication of field placings at any time.

Olivier and Oberon
missing net practice again
 Cricketers should hope that the new version is truer to the original.  Wittering Heights was published in 1847 but tells of events some 30-40 years previously when league cricket was in its infancy.  It recounts the tempestuous tussle between Yorkshire League clubs Earnshaw CC and Linton CC and the devastating impact of Heathcliff.  Heathcliff is brought as overseas amateur to Earnshaw CC where his extreme pace off the wicket, his reverse sweep and propensity to sledge mark him out.  His own side are as much affected as the opposition for he doesn't hold back in net practice, and there was not much protection for batsmen in those days other than a top hat. 

The All England XI of 1847
Unfortunately the cricket focus is at times rather suppressed by the author in favour of a fanciful love story in which a member of Earnshaw CC falls for Heathcliff but doesn't marry him.  Things rather fall apart after that with much running out into the moors, soulful looks, breast beating and general behaviour not befitting cricketers.  It is likely that the standards of play dropped at both clubs as a direct result.  There is no happy ending; the characters drop like flies and Heathcliff himself dies relatively young without gaining the Test cap he longed for.  Earnshaw CC is no longer able to turn out a team.

Some cricketers may recall with affection the song of a similar title by Kate Bush.  And this link will whisk you to a startling version by the fabulous Ukelele Orchestra of Great Britain.  Enjoy.


  1. After FB readers have sampled the incomparable Ukelele Orchestra on Youtube, they may care to pursue their studies with Roy Harper's "When an Old Cricketer leaves the crease", reprised at his 70th birthday concert at the Royal festival hall this past weekend....