A SWANSEA University lecturer’s latest book was not only a labour of love but also a chance to pay tribute to the man who inspired his passion for the game of cricket.

Cricketing Lives: A Characterful History from Pitch to Page by Dr Richard Thomas is published next month and looks back at some of the sport’s most remarkable players and the stories that surround them.

Dr Thomas, associate professor of media and communication in the College of Arts and Humanities, was introduced to the sport by his late father Richard Howard Thomas, who captained of the University cricket team during the 1950s.

He said: “My father was the one who inspired me to love the game so much, and we spent lots of our time together watching it and talking about it.”

Richard Howard Thomas (front centre) in the University cricket team of 1954/5

Dedicating his book to his father who died last year, Dr Thomas said: “He told me about cricket, encouraged me to love it and showed endless patience in trying to make me better at playing it.  Useless as I was, he never stopped supporting me and cheering me on.”

Dr Thomas added: “A big motivation for me to finish the book in draft form was so he could read it before he died and he was able to give me his insightful and constructive feedback.” 

The finished work, with foreword by Daniel Norcross of BBC Test Match Special, is described by Wisden Cricket Monthly as the kind of book “you’d love to settle down with – a warm and generous history that glows with love as well as learning”. It also praises Dr Thomas’s knack for finding “the quote you’ve never read, the reference that sends you scuttling towards unfamiliar books”.

Humorous and deeply affectionate, Cricketing Lives tells the story of the game through those who have shaped it. It’s about W G Grace and his eye to his wallet; the invincible Viv Richards, the legendary Glamorgan captain and polymath Wilf Wooller; and Sarah Taylor, dubbed the best wicketkeeper in the world – male or female – who also happens to have been his father’s favourite ever player.

An expert in political communication, alt-media and the coverage of elections, Dr Thomas is a member of Swansea University’s Politics, Analysis and Governance research group. He is also editor of the Swansea Mumbler ,an online showcase of activities within the Media and Communications department, where he has shared his father’s recollections of his time at Swansea University.

Cricketing Lives: A Characterful History from Pitch to Page by Dr Richard Thomas is published by Reaktion Books on May 17 and costs £20