Episode 14: Talking with Cricket Historian Stephen Chalke

Cricket authors (and obsessives) Peter Oborne and Richard Heller have launched a new podcast to help deprived listeners endure a world without cricket. They chat regularly about cricket topics – hoping to keep a good line and length but with occasional wides into other subjects.

Stephen Chalke has given deep personal service to the oral history of English cricket, weaving together the personal stories of cricketers past into a unique social tapestry of the game. His publishing house, Fairfield Books, published 42 titles, 19 by himself, of cricket books which might never have emerged from mainstream publishers. He did almost every job required himself, notably distribution and promotion, and his time and labour earned less reward per hour than the minimum wage. In retirement from Fairfield, he continues to help publish narratives of cricket.

Stephen Chalke describes with deep feeling his collaboration with his subjects. Often he spent week after week with them, teasing out their memories and letting them find their voice. Recounting stories of Ken Taylor, Mickey Stewart, Fred Rumsey, Bob Appleyard & more.


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Peter Oborne has been the chief political commentator for the Daily Telegraph and the Daily Mail, a maker of several documentaries and written and broadcast for many different media. He is the author of a biography of Basil D’Oliveira and of Wounded Tiger, a history of Pakistan cricket, both of which won major awards.

Richard Heller was a long-serving humorous columnist on The Mail on Sunday and more briefly, on The Times. He worked in the movie business in the United States and the UK, including a brief engagement on a motion picture called Cycle Sluts Versus The Zombie Ghouls. He is the author of two cricket-themed novels A Tale of Ten Wickets and The Network. He appeared in two Mastermind finals: in the first his special subject was the life of Sir Gary Sobers.

Jointly, he and Peter produced White On Green, celebrating the drama of Pakistan cricket, including the true story of the team which lost a first-class match by an innings and 851 runs.

Peter and Richard have played cricket with and against each other for a variety of social sides, including Parliament’s team, the Lords and Commons, and in over twenty countries including India, Pakistan, the United States, Ireland, Spain, Portugal, France, Greece, Australia, Zimbabwe, New Zealand and Morocco.

The Podcast was produced by Bridget Osborne and James Willcocks at The Chiswick Calendar.