Archduke Franz-Joseph just fails to make his ground during the crucial Fourth Test in Melbourne.
Recently I’ve been reading two books that have given me tremendous satisfaction, so I thought I might share.
The Radetzky March by Austrian writer Joseph Roth is an account of the decline and decay of the Austro–Hungarian Empire as seen through the lives of the Trotta family while Out of the Running by cricket writer Gideon Haigh is an account of the decline and decay of the Australian test cricket team as seen through the life of Ricky Ponting.
Although at first blush, the two books seem widely dissimilar they have in common a number of themes.
One book is a masterly account of the slow decline of a once great power through a combination of inertia, excessive bureaucracy and greed, presided over by a paternal authority figure who is gradually losing his touch.
The other is a book about the Austro–Hungarian Empire*.
Taken together, they make an ideal gift for the loved one in your life who has an excessive interest in test cricket and Eastern Europe**.
* Boom, and dare I say, tish.
** True, this would probably rule out everybody in the English reading world apart from me and possibly Perseus, but that’s your problem.