Islington man writes cricket book with help from celebrities

What do Prince Philip, comedian and Islington resident Alan Davies and TV chef Ainsley Harriott have in common?

They are all cricket fanatics and are featured in a book of interviews by writer John Duncan.

Cricket, Wonderful Cricket is what you get when you take 20 prominent British figures and talk to them about the sport.

John, a former city worker and PR man who lives in Prebend Street, Islington, also convinced Sir John Major, veteran film critic Barry Norman and former Rolling Stone Bill Wyman to take part .

The 75-year-old said: “Writing it was just an incredible experience. I was very fortunate to get such a rich mix of people.

“It’s people who’ve been successful in their lives talking about their passion for the game.

“They’re all very different from one another, but this invisible thread joins them together.”

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The book relays their favourite anecdotes, including Alan Davies’ career with Dusty Fleming’s International Hair Stylists team, revealed over dinner at The Trevi in Highbury Corner.

But some of the places John visited were a far cry from an Italian restaurant in Highbury.

“I went to Buckingham Palace for an audience with Prince Philip,” he said. “We talked endlessly about cricket – he’s a nicer man than people give him credit for.

“Then we drove out of the Palace and went straight to Ainsley Harriott’s back garden in Wandsworth – it was great fun.”

Mr Duncan, who juggled his PR day job with work as a freelance commentator for BBC Brighton, said the idea for Cricket, Wonderful Cricket came to him in the middle of the night.

“I was lying in bed at 3am and then suddenly went bolt upright,” he said. “I’d been reading a series of interviews, but I think about cricket all the time – and the two just came together.

“I thought it would be great to get all these people and not talk about what they do – just talk exclusively about cricket. When people talk about their passions and the things that interest them, it brings out a lot of information about the sort of person that they are.”

n Cricket, Wonderful Cricket is published by Metro Books.