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First of the Summer Wine

George Hirst, Schofield Haigh, Wilfred Rhodes and the Gentle Heart of Yorkshire Cricket

About The Book

The remarkable story of three Yorkshire cricketers from the Golden Age - George Hirst, Wilfred Rhodes and Schofield Haigh - who transformed their county's fortunes, inspired a generation of cricketers and left a unique legacy on the game.

Between them, Hirst, Rhodes and Haigh scored over 77,000 runs and took almost 9000 wickets in a combined 2500 appearances, helping Yorkshire to seven County Championship triumphs. The records they set will never be beaten, yet the three men - known throughout England as The Triumvirate - were born in two small villages just outside Huddersfield, in Last of the Summer Wine country. Hirst pioneered and perfected the art of swing and seam bowling, Rhodes took more first-class wickets than anyone else in history, while the genial Haigh's achievements as a bowler at Yorkshire have been surpassed only by his two close friends; their influence would extend far beyond England, as they all went to India to coach, laying the foundations of cricket in the subcontinent.

Pearson, whose biography of Learie Constantine, Connie, won the MCC Book of the Year Award, brings the characters and the age vividly to life, showing how these cricketing stars came to symbolise the essence of Yorkshire. This was a time when the gritty northern professionals from the White Rose county took on some of the most glittering amateurs of the age, including W.G.Grace, C.B.Fry, Prince Ranji and Gilbert Jessop, and when writers such as Neville Cardus and J.M.Kilburn were on hand to bring their achievements to a wider audience.

The First of the Summer Wine is a celebration of a vanished age, but also reveals how the efforts of Hirst, Rhodes and Haigh helped create the modern era, too.

About The Author


Harry Pearson was born and brought up on the edge of Teesside and is the author of twelve works of non-fiction. His first book, The Far Corner - A Mazy Dribble through North-East Football, was shortlisted for the William Hill Prize and is still in print. He wrote a weekly sports column in the Guardian from 1996 to 2012, and has twice won the MCC/Cricket Society Prize for the Cricket Book of the Year. He lives in Northumberland.

Product Details

  • Publisher: Simon & Schuster UK (July 7, 2022)
  • Length: 336 pages
  • ISBN13: 9781398501522

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Raves and Reviews

'Hirst and Rhodes were aristocrats by acclamation, not birthright; known everywhere and worshipped in God’s Own County for what they could do with a cricket ball. In this wistful paean, Pearson...knits all these achievements together with lovely turns of phrase - "they batted on a wicket so amiable it practically chortled" - and colourful descriptions of fringe characters.'

– Patrick Kidd, The Times

'It takes a particular worldview, and glorious skill, to set up and write a biography in the way that Harry Pearson writes this one... A masterpiece of observation and comic timing.. Yorkshire is much more than a backdrop to the tale. It comes alive with meaning. In striving for the human qualities of cricketing gods, he's managed to do something new with a familiar place and a familiar story.'

– Jon Hotten, Wisden Cricket Monthly

'[An] engrossing study of the three players who did most to transform Yorkshire from a bunch of dissolutes to the most successful county team of the early 20th century. Pearson successfully knits together their careers to give a fresh perspective.'

– David Hopps, The Cricketer

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