At one end of the World’s most famous cricket ground stands the Lord’s pavilion. For over a hundred years it has played host to some of the greatest names in the game.
However, within its walls and beneath its floors live a collection of less celebrated cricketers and their families. Compo, Don, WG, Bumble, CMJ, Mrs Heyhoe and others are members of the pavilion’s mouse colony. They live happily side by side with the visiting spectators, scavenging what they need. All this changes when one night when Willow, their master batmaker, goes missing. She has been intercepted by two members of the local rat population who have been displaced by the activities of ‘Pest Arrest’ from the disused Lord’s Tube Station. With their home made uninhabitable, the rats are on the look out for a new residence. It is apparent that Willow is healthy and well cared for and they decide that wherever she lives they can live too. Bristle’s, the rat’s tough leader, decides that the mice have to go and they will take their place. At an anxious meeting, the mice plead their case. It is decided that a cricket match between the two sides will determine who gets the right to live in the pavilion.
The mice are spurred on by the exploits of their heroes, the England cricket team who are playing Australia in an Ashes Test Match on the main ground.
The 2013 Ashes Test at Lord’s was yet another installment of an age-old sporting rivalry. While England and Australia did battle on the field there was another contest taking place off it; a new rivalry with arguably high stakes. The mice versus the rats.
The Mouse Cricket Caper is a classic story of good versus bad (I wouldn’t go as far as saying the rats are evil). Set at Lord’s, the mice reside within the Victorian pavilion scavenging off the spoils left behind by the members and spectators after a day’s play. The rats, fresh from being evicted from their home at the disused Lord’s Tube Station, discover the mice through chance and threaten to muscle in on their territory. The rats’ leader, Bristles, gives the mice a chance to fight for their land with the victor earning the right to take residence in the pavilion. The setting is the Long Room and the game, of course, is cricket.
The Mouse Cricket Caper is a charming and educational story with clever cricket themes throughout. The mice are experts on the game and have names loosely based on past greats such as Don, Beefy, Compo, Bumble and Mrs Heyhoe. Some of the mice are even caricatures of the players, adopting their characteristics and traits which will come much to the delight of keen fans of the game. The rats on the other hand are complete novices when it comes to cricket but have a clear size and strength advantage.
While the story will appeal greatly to young cricket fans, the book is also an excellent introduction to the sport for children. It explains the history of Lord’s, the Ashes and the MCC members and even makes a delightful Dredlock Holiday reference when the mouse of Jamaican heritage by the name of Mikey, presumably based on Michael Holding, say: “I don’t like cricket, I LURVE IT!”
As with most children’s books the end is reasonably predictable and while it won’t go down as a classic, The Mouse Cricket Caper is a pleasant jaunt that makes the game appealing to children (and the odd adult).
ALLOUTCRICKET Review February 2015 Edition