Michael Henderson

Real fans will be cheering the Netherlands

Ian Chappell, the flinty Australian captain, has said that after giving cricket to the world the English did nothing further to develop the game. That original gift, it might be argued, was a fairly significant bequest, but Chappell could point to postwar history. In his lifetime, cricket has been shaped by Australians, West Indians, and

Now’s the time to join the Garrick

Amelia ‘Milly’ Gentleman, the Guardian’s fearless investigative reporter, has ‘exclusively’ revealed some of the Garrick Club’s filthy secrets. It’s ‘the final gasps’ of ‘a declining patriarchal elite’, she writes. ‘A lonely slice of an England that forgot to modernise’. All over the country, fair-minded folk must be thinking ‘woo, when can I join?’   Clubmen

Has Bazball rescued — or ruined — cricket?

The date 6 June 2021 was a grim day for cricket. As the world was adjusting to life after the pandemic, a Lord’s Test with a full house felt like ‘the promised kiss of springtime’. And so it was, until the final afternoon, when New Zealand challenged England to make 273 in 75 overs. The

In praise of burning pianos

How are non-conformists assimilated within the cloistered walls of tradition? Richard Wagner supplied the best answer to the age-old question in Die Meistersinger von Nürnberg, when Hans Sachs, the cobbler-poet, reconciles youthful ardour with the wisdom bestowed by experience. Learn from the masters, he tells the townsfolk, if you want to start afresh. It was

Munich notebook

It has been a strange week in Munich; a week of deceptively cool mornings, afternoons hot enough to fry eggs and thunderstorms at twilight that have turned streets into streams. A week of reflection, too, capped last Sunday by a service of remembrance in the cathedral, attended by Chancellor Merkel, to honour the nine young

The hateful Hundred is putting cash before cricket

The cricket at Cheltenham last week was reassuringly old–fashioned. In the last session of the fourth day, Gloucestershire’s bowlers took a flurry of wickets to beat Middlesex by 164 runs, watched by spectators who assemble at the college ground each July from all over England to renew a much-loved ritual. ‘Proper cricket,’ said a chap

Down by the bayou

The king of crime fiction doesn’t need a crown and sceptre. Every page proclaims his majesty. James Lee Burke has now written 22 books about Dave Robicheaux, but readers will never grow tired either of him, his friend, Clete Purcel, or the bayou. The New Iberia Blues should be greeted with a fanfare of trumpets:

The jewel in the Renaissance

‘Remember, signor,’ the gateman at the Uffizi Gallery is reputed to have told the sceptical American tourist who wondered whether it was worth popping in for an hour before lunch; ‘here it is not the paintings which are on trial.’ Florence has never been on trial. It passed the test centuries ago, when America was

Forever stumped

‘There can be no summer in this land without cricket’, wrote Neville Cardus, whose rhapsodic vision of the game lies at the heart of its mythology. Hardly a week goes by without somebody borrowing a phrase or two from Cardus to emphasise what cricket means to England — or used to mean, for the modern

A man of many parts | 24 May 2018

A most excellent fellow, Roger Allam. On the stage he brings dignity to all he does, in the noblest traditions of the British theatre. Off it he is a fully paid-up member of the human race, admired by his comrades as a man no less than as an actor. Some mummers, eager to let off

Philip Roth was a genius

Philip Roth has died at the age of 85. Here Michael Henderson pays tribute to the American author: It became a cliché to call him the finest living American novelist, but that is what he was. Philip Roth stands without embarrassment alongside the major figures of American fiction, going back to Mark Twain, and while

A familiar Ring

Herbert von Karajan established the Easter Festival in Salzburg 50 years ago with a production of Die Walküre that is now considered legendary. In the sense that legends are rooted in memory, and mythological in substance, that much is true. Which is not to damn it with faint praise. This revival, staged by Vera Nemirova,

The ghastly truth

Paul Johnson once wrote that the ability to say ‘really’ in 12 different ways was the birthright of every true Englishman, or woman. Really rather awkward. Really dreadful. Really good effort. Really went to town. I know him really well. Did she really mean that? I mean, really! One word, many meanings. ‘Ghastly’ is another

Hit for six | 5 January 2017

Frankie Howerd, the great, if troubled, comedian, was once asked whether he enjoyed performing. ‘I enjoy having performed,’ he replied. Many top-level sportsmen would say something similar. The satisfaction often comes from having done, not always from doing. Performing offers great rewards, but it can also leave scars that heal slowly, and sometimes not at

A pint of Landlord

Down a lane in Keighley, in the old West Riding of Yorkshire, they brew the greatest ale in the world. Timothy Taylor, the brewery is called, or Timmy Taylor’s, should you feel sufficiently familiar. And if you are not familiar with the ales brewed by these modest Yorkies, you’re clearly not an ale-drinker. And if

Northern overexposure

‘The shortest way out of Manchester,’ it used to be said, ‘is notoriously a bottle of Gordon’s gin.’ But that was a long time ago, when ‘Cottonopolis’ was the pivot of the Industrial Revolution, the British empire was expanding and life was cheaper. They tend not to drink gin any more in the bars on

Anarchy in the EU

It is 40 years since the band in which Paul Cook banged the drums, the Sex Pistols, detonated a bomb called punk in post-war Britain. The shards are still visible. ‘We didn’t have a manifesto, but we wanted to shake things up,’ he says. ‘We didn’t know how much we would shake things up. Music,

Elite sport

England’s cricketers won a remarkable Test match inside three days in the bearpit of Johannesburg, a victory that put them 2-0 up in the four-match series, with only the final Test to play. It is a remarkable achievement by Alastair Cook’s team because, before a ball had been bowled, most judges expected South Africa, the