Nathan Leamon is the performance analyst of the England cricket team and The Test is his first novel. He writes well on the profile and pressure of the modern Test captain, less so the meaning of life which fills the passages between the description of a gripping test match at Lords.
Leamon writes extremely well on the pressures an England captain faces: the press that hails you as hero one day and then someone to be cast off the next; the young debutant that plays for himself, not the team; playing on with injury; being sledged by the Aussies.
McCall is fundamentally a decent bloke – the victim rather the cause of his various travails. The description of the Test at Lords that goes to the last over is gripping stuff.
The problem for me is between that you read about the meaning of life: Darwin, Nietzsche, Zen Buddihm – it’s all there, and after a while I skim-read to get back to the Test. It’s his first novel and it could have done with better editing.
Oddly enough, he does not really expand on his chosen field – data analysis.
Peter Moores is a keen devotee of this and was scuppered by the press when, after a defeat by Bangladesh, he said he would withhold his views until he had examined the data. I would have enjoyed the confrontation over the value of data analysis between a grizzly old pro and a wet behind the ears young boffin.
My own view is that it is a useful tool, a resource, but should not be a overriding factor in terms of performance-assessment.
This novel will appeal more to the cricketing fraternity. If he writes a second he might follow the advice of Somerset Maugham, namely stick to areas which you know.