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The New Zealanders first visit to England after the grant of Test status came in 1931, and they came again in 1937. At the same time as Freddie Calthorpe’s England side toured the Caribbean in 1929/30 another England side, under the leadership of Harold Gilligan visited New Zealand and, on the only occasion this has ever happened, both played a Test series. One other visit to New Zealand took place before the war, two Tests there being tagged on to the end of the Bodyline series 1932/33. The 1932/33 series has a blog post all of its own, but of the contemporary books only Jack Hobbs’ Fight for the Ashes 1932/33 goes on to deal with the visit to New Zealand, and does so in short order.
As to those stand alone pre-war series against New Zealand there are two books. The 1929/30 series was chronicled in The Book of the Two Maurices. The authors were the tall Surrey fast bowler Maurice Allom, and the rather more vertically challenged Glamorgan batsman Maurice Turnbull. There was also a small book published on the New Zealanders 1931 visit, written by Orton Hintz and titled, unimaginatively, The New Zealanders in England 1931. Of 1937 there was, sadly, nothing of substance published at the time.
Post war the New Zealanders visited England in 1949. The one top class bowler in their side, Jack Cowie, was a little past his best but a talented and durable batting line up meant that the visitors, led by the patriarch of the Hadlee family, Walter, comfortably drew all four Tests. There was a splendid book published at the time, Cricket Companions by Alan Mitchell and John Arlott’s Gone With the Cricketers also looked at the series. In addition, back in New Zealand, a small booklet was published by George Wycherley. Halo for Hadlee was a humorous account of the trip. The best book of all on this series however is a retrospective one, published by our friends at The Cricket Publishing Company a couple of years ago. The Skipper’s Diary is a lasting testament to the quality of ‘the 49ers’.
Much of the strength had ebbed away from New Zealand cricket by the time of their next visit to England in 1958 and had not the weather saved them once it would have been a 5-0 win for England. The writers stayed well away, other than Arlott, who featured the series in his Cricket Journal.
The side that came to England for the first split summer in 1965 was a little stronger than the 1958 team, although they were still unable to trouble the home side. Worth reading is Dick Brittenden’s Red Leather Silver Fern, which covered the New Zealanders’ visits to India and Pakistan as well.
I could almost cut and paste the last paragraph at this point. The story was very similar in 1969 with a visit to England by the New Zealanders, who once more were visiting India and Pakistan as well. Again Brittenden wrote a book covering all three trips, Scoreboard ’69.
In 1973 New Zealand and, as in 1969, West Indies, visited England and even the fact of the latter series being Sobers’ last in England did not strike a chord with publishers. That there was no account of the New Zealand tour was less surprising, but that was a gap in the game’s history that was filled in 2013 by David Parsons’ The New Zealand Tour to England 1973, a fitting tribute to the brave performances of Bevan Congdon and his team.
At the height of the World Series Cricket controversy over the winter of 1977/78 England sent a side out to play series in Pakistan and New Zealand. The absence of a contemporary account comes as no surprise, but almost forty years on David Battersby filled the gap with In The Shadow of Packer, an excellent read.
It was a World Cup year in England in 1983, unexpectedly won by India. After that the New Zealanders stayed behind for a four Test series, their longest visit for a quarter of a century. England’s 3-1 victory was part of the subject matter of a collaboration between Patrick Eagar and Alan Ross; Kiwis and Indians.
The England and New Zealand players must have got to know each other pretty well in those months as, together with Pakistan, the Shaky Isles were one of England’s destinations the following winter. It is a trip recorded by England skipper Bob Willis in The Captain’s Diary a book that is not, in common with most bearing that title, as interesting as the title promises.
The summer of 1986 was a grim one for England as they lost series to both India and New Zealand. By definition a far from memorable season there is a record for posterity in another Eagar/Ross effort; Summer of Suspense.
England beat Australia in between, but lost to Pakistan at home in 1987 before setting off on a long winter in 1987/88 that took in Pakistan and Australia as well as New Zealand. Scyld Berry’s Cricket Odyssey is an excellent account of a difficult winter for England.
The next and, to date, last tour to New Zealand to merit a book was Out of the Rough, published in 1997 and in large part concerning England’s trip to New Zealand the previous winter. The writers were David Lloyd, Jonathan Agnew and Peter Baxter. It is a reasonable account but, frankly, the most notable thing about it is that it also counts as the only tour account ever of an England trip to Zimbabwe an occasion when, whatever dear old Bumble might have asserted to the contrary, we most certainly did not flipping murder ‘em.
There is a slight issue with New Zealand tours caused by the habit, up to and including 1974/75, of adding a trip to New Zealand to tours of Australia. There are books on all those tours, and in respect some of them several titles appeared, but not many deal with the matches in New Zealand. Padwick does not, slightly irritatingly, specify which of the books deal with the New Zealand, so I cannot claim the following list is definitive:-
1946/47:- The books by journalist Clif Cary and Bruce Harris do not deal with the single Test in New Zealand, but there is a chapter on that part of the trip in Denis Compton’s Testing Time for England.
1950/51:- Another cut and paste job in that In Sun and in Shadow by Compton deals with the two Tests in New Zealand. The books I have by ‘Lyn’ Wellings, Keith Miller, Jack Fingleton and ‘Tiger’ O’Reilly do not. I have not seen the books by John Kay, Rex Warner, ‘Jim’ Swanton or Harris.
1954/55:- Another bumper crop of books to celebrate Len Hutton’s side retaining the urn but, of New Zealand, not a word at the time in any of the books I own, despite the interest created by New Zealand’s dismissal for 26 in the second of the two Tests. None of Alan Ross, Sidney Barnes, Margaret Hughes, Swanton, Wellings or Moyes go on to New Zealand. The books I have not seen were written by Arthur Gilligan, Arlott and Ian Peebles. Of this tour however there have been two retrospective accounts, both of which do go on to New Zealand; In the Eye of the Typhoon by Frank Tyson, and Those Daring Young Men by Alan Hill.
1958/59:- Of the writers on this, for England, disappointing Ashes tour only Peebles went on to New Zealand as far as I am aware for the two Tests there. His book was The Fight for the Ashes 1958/59. Wellings and Fingleton did not cover the New Zealand Tests. Others writers who I cannot assist with are Alec Bedser, Moyes and Kay.
1962/63:- This time there were three Tests in New Zealand, not referenced by any of Richie Benaud, Ross or Swanton. There are books by John Clarke, Wellings and Moyes/Tom Goodman that I have not a chance to look at.
1965/66:- There are only two accounts and neither Clarke nor ‘Slasher’ Mackay deal with the three Tests in New Zealand.
1970/71:- Just one book this time, from ‘Dick’ Whitington, who confines himself to the Australian series.
1974/75:- Two Ashes books and two Tests in New Zealand, in the first of which Ewan Chatfield almost lost his life. Tyson wasn’t in New Zealand, but Assault on the Ashes by Christopher Martin-Jenkins does cover the Tests there.
There is also a mention here for the ubiquitous Canynge Caple, whose All Blacks at Cricket 1860-1958 looks at all the New Zealanders’ Tests up to but not including those played in 1958, and covers those played against all opponents, not just England. England versus New Zealand by Gerry Cotter, published by Crowood in 1990, is another similar title.
When Jos Buttler ran out Martin Guptill to tie the 2019 World Cup Final Super Over which saw England emerge as ODI champions for the first time, it wasn’t just a tense finish to a firecracking rollercoaster of a match or even just the end of an intense and closely fought tournament. It was the deserved closure of four years’ worth of preparation and reinvention in search of the ultimate payoff.
England’s progression from a wretched early exit at the 2015 World Cup to worthy finalists at the 2019 edition is well documented. After crashing out of the 2015 tournament at the hands of Bangladesh with their approach and skillset proving vastly unsuited to the modern game, England reinvented themselves as an ODI team. A new coach was brought in and with him a new approach: attack, attack, attack. The results were immediate and impressive. In their first ODI with head man Trevor Bayliss at the helm, England smashed their first ever 400-plus score in the format against New Zealand in a series which also saw them complete their (at the time) highest successful run-chase. A new era had not only dawned, but had well and truly been ushered in.
The next few years saw this revitalised approach bring England unprecedented levels of success in the format, not only in terms of results, but also in terms of the many records broken. There was the highest 10-wicket run chase in history (since surpassed by South Africa), achieving a world-record score against Pakistan and doing so again against Australia in 2018 as part of their first ever 5-0 series whitewash. These are just a sample of the at times stunning feats the team accomplished as they refined their blitzkrieg method and rose to the top of the ODI rankings in the leadup to the 2019 World Cup.
It was not smooth sailing all the way. The mountainous highs were punctuated by the occasional abysmal low, mostly when the flaws in England’s approach with the bat (one-dimensional for all its success) were exposed, but also when their bowling – by now their weaker suit by far – was shown to be less adept at defending a total than their batsmen were at setting one. It was these chinks in the side’s armour which led to many people question whether, for all the improvement on show, England’s new paradigm of ODI cricket might just let them down when it mattered the most.
Indeed, it had already proved to be the team’s downfall on the more modest, but still important stage of the 2017 Champions’ Trophy. Having breezed through the group stages of that tournament, England faltered in their semi-final against Pakistan. Having grown fat on a diet of flat, batting-friendly pitches, England stumbled on a trickier – but by no means unplayable – surface. They were bowled out for a disappointing 211 before their bowlers put in an underwhelming performance of their own, taking only 2 Pakistani wickets as the eventual tournament victors eased their way into the final.
England returned to their (mostly) winning ways after the conclusion of the Champions’ Trophy but their renewed successes were interspersed with a few abject failures which indicated their struggles in tougher conditions were not a thing of the past. Most notably against Australia on their 2017/18 tour there, they sunk to 8-5 before managing to stage something of a recovery. As late as early 2019, a dismal capitulation against the West Indies only intensified fans’ concerns that an inability to adapt their game would prove to be England’s undoing in the now fast-approaching World Cup. While their series of high scores in their final pre-tournament series against Pakistan were impressive they didn’t tell anyone anything they didn’t already know.
Ahead of the World Cup, England had sought to go some distance to covering their other weakness – their bowling – by calling up Barbadian-born fast bowler Jofra Archer, who became eligible to represent England after a change to their residency period rules to bring them directly in line with ICC regulations. A decent showing against Pakistan secured his spot in the World Cup squad and provided a welcome boost the England’s bowling lineup. The side then had to deal with the critics of their now-established approach to ODI batting, both in terms of conditions and whether it would stand up to the additional pressure of World Cup Cricket.
The question of conditions was thrown into sharper focus when it soon became apparent that the pitches in use during the tournament would not be the batting paradises many had expected (and indeed feared), but would invariably offer at least something for the bowlers to work with. It too became apparent that – due to pitches or pressure – chasing totals in this World Cup was significantly harder than had generally been observed in the many bilateral series played over the last few years. This was another potential stumbling-block for England as they had found most of their recent success whilst chasing.
In fact, their first loss of the tournament would turn out to be a failed chase against Pakistan. Set 349 to win, England never looked as assured as they had whilst chasing similar totals against the same team just weeks earlier. A pair of superb innings from Joe Root and Jos Buttler took their response to an impressive level of respectability, but the match left observers who had suggested that England would be unable to replicate their feats of recent times in a genuine pressure environment feeling vindicated.
England won their next few matches comfortably, with a clinical bowling performance against the West Indies giving hope that that particular weakness had been somewhat mitigated. However their other problems reared their heads when, having restricted Sri Lanka to what appeared to be an eminently gettable 232, they proceeded to falter in their chase. This was due to excellent bowling from Lasith Malinga, but more pertinently due to an enduring hole in their batting game when playing on slower pitches.
Having now lost two matches they had been widely expected to win, England were now faced with the tough task of needing to win two of their next three matches to guarantee a semi-final spot. Their opponents – Australia, India, New Zealand – were likely semi-finalists so England with pressure mounting would have to perform against their toughest opponents of the tournament.
When they fell comfortably short of chasing a target of 286 against Australia, justifiable questions over whether, for all their evident improvement, England indeed had what it took to emerge victorious on the biggest stage resurfaced in abundance.. There was an increasing feeling that their limitations had been exposed or that they had simply bottled it. Whilst a team-best World Cup total against Bangladesh and a record-breaking innings from Eoin Morgan against Afghanistan had at least proved that England’s best qualities could translate to a major tournament, they served only to reinforce the impression of a team that had focussed on its eye-catching strengths to the detriment of potentially fatal weaknesses. Whatever the reason for their situation, England’s last two games of the round-robin stage of the tournament were effectively knockout affairs and they were under severe pressure to perform
Memorable cricketing performances, whether by a team or an individual, rarely come without a slice of fortune. This England team’s lucky break came with the chance to bat first on a surface which proved to be far more conducive to run-scoring than those on which they had just lost two consecutive matches. A much-improved score of 337, kickstarted by a maiden World Cup century from Jonny Bairstow and a pair of excellent opening spells from Chris Woakes and Jofra Archer set them up for a convincing win. The confidence gained from this turnaround evidently carried into England’s final match of the round robin stage where Bairstow’s second century in as many games took his team to 305/8. They followed up by bowling New Zealand out for 186 which whilst admittedly assisted by a pair of run-outs – one avoidable and one extremely unlucky – demonstrated that this now-resurgent England team did indeed have all the tools at their disposal to lift the coveted trophy.
England don’t lose at Edgbaston. Australia don’t lose in knockout matches. These two facts clashed head-to-head as the two sides in question met in the second semi-final, with the first having seen New Zealand eliminate India in a thriller. When Australian captain Aaron Finch won the toss and elected to bat, it appeared that England’s newly-found frailty whilst chasing would be put to the test but a match-defining opening spell saw Australia reduced to 14-3. A century stand between the ever-dependable Steve Smith and Alex Carey, arguably Australia’s find of the tournament, threatened to defy England until the host nation’s previous weak bowling link in the tournament to date, Adil Rashid, struck to put Australia on the back foot, with only some lower-order resistance from Mitchell Starc allowing them to scrape to 223.
Even at this stage, the natural pessimist that lives within most fans of English sport was not daring to hope that this chase was as simple as it looked on paper. They needn’t have worried. For the first time since their very similar chase against the West Indies earlier in the tournament, England looked totally at ease as they batted their way effortlessly to the total and with it, for the first time in 27 years, the World Cup final.
By getting this far England had answered most of the questions regarding their abilities and resilience – and silenced most of their doubters – and relegated their ignominious performance at the previous World Cup to a distant memory. But, for all this, there was general feeling that unless this tournament ended with England lifting the trophy, it would all have been in vain – particularly as the vast improvement enjoyed by the One-Day team was considered by many to have come at the expense of consistency in the Test arena. Moreover, with coach Trevor Bayliss’ post-summer departure having been announced some time in advance, it was clear that all levels of English cricket saw this tournament as their one chance. It was now or never and no-one, least of all the England team, would settle for second best.
What transpired on July 14th need not be recounted here as it is already imprinted – probably forever – into the memories of all who saw its dramatic twists and turns unfold into what many believe the greatest ever One-Day International. A close contest throughout became a wild rollercoaster as it twisted and turned again and again towards its conclusion. It was not without its share of controversy as England overcame their weakness in chasing on a tricky though not impossible pitch which led to a tie before the finale of a tense Super Over saw them emerge victorious on boundary countback to claim their inaugural World Cup trophy. That a freak stroke of luck (and, it would transpire, an incorrect application of the rules) had saved England from falling agonisingly short and the contrived methodology by which they were awarded the trophy didn’t matter to them. The past four years of tumultuous years of highs, lows, rebirth and banishing the demons of their past had not been in vain. Victory was theirs.
Pakistan is one of the teams participating in the 12th edition of the ICC world cup 2019. The 7 week long tournament brought 10 teams with each participating in the group stages. It must be noted that the cricket world cup was introduced in 1975 and Pakistan won the world cup in 1992. In this 12th edition however, they came into the World Cup as an unpredictable big team that opponents need to be wary of.
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Pakistan’s dismal performance at the 2019 ICC world cup
The team’s performance in the tournament so far hasn’t been that impressive although it has been a mix of wins and losses. Unfortunately, the losses have been many and this has prompted the Pakistan Cricket Board to announce their planned review and analysis of the performance of the national team including the support staff as well as the head coach Mickey Arthur. However this will be done only after the end of the tournament. The review and analysis will take stock of the team’s performance and the matches it has played in the past three years preceding the world cup which haven’t been good either.
For Pakistan though it is not a new thing to witness a wave of reviews and sackings at every world cup failure with a promise of a different approach up until the team wins again and then all is forgotten! Pakistan has again failed to make it to the semi-finals and it is clear that they have been bundled out of the tourney. Even though Pakistan managed to win their last four straight matches and even finished on level 11 points with New Zealand, but they were still not able to qualify for the semis because of the inferior net run.
Their first match against West Indies was the biggest shock for them as they were bowled out for a paltry 105 as West Indies won in just 13.4 overs. Against the backdrop of their poor run since the start of the tourney, they managed to come from behind to win against South Africa, New Zealand, Afghanistan and Bangladesh thus going fifth in the 10-team table.
The results so far are not good news for the team as England dashed their hopes of reaching the semi-finals after beating New Zealand. Pakistan is one team that has been a regular entrant of the tournament’s semi-finals and failing to secure a place at last four will not be good news to them. Already fans and lovers of the game at home have raised their dissatisfaction of the team’s dismal performance. Calls have been made for the overhaul of the team so they could return to their winning ways of the past.
What can be expected of the Pakistan Cricket Team in the Future?
Well, the Pakistan cricket team is good that is a mix of youngsters, well-established and experienced players who have been in the team long enough. Now that the team is out of the tournament those concerned with the running of the team should focus on improving the areas that the team had weaknesses in. If all the underlying issues are well resolved then we should expect a formidable Pakistani team in the future. This time they just experienced not their worst performance, but sure not a good one. They sure will rise up and perform well going forward.
When I first started reading cricket books there seemed to be one big difference between the English and Australian writers. For some reason the latter all seemed to be former players, whereas generally the former were not. Monty Noble, Jack Fingleton and Tiger O’Reilly of the old school were Test veterans, as were Richie Benaud, Keith Miller and Ashley Mallett of more recent vintage. I also knew that AG ‘Johnny’ Moyes and RS ‘Dick’ Whittington had each played plenty of First Class cricket, so I’ve always considered it understandable that for many years I laboured under the misapprehension that the Ray Robinson whose Between Wickets was one of the first books I really enjoyed, was the Ray Robinson who had appeared in one Ashes Test against Gubby Allen’s 1936/37 England tourists.
In fact he wasn’t, and there is no reference that I am aware of as to what level of cricket Robinson played and for how long, nor indeed whether he played the game at all. That said the fact that O’Reilly, who first met Robinson in 1932 when the latter was 26, was immediately impressed by Robinson’s understanding and knowledge of the techniques of the game, suggests that at some point he must have been a decent player. He was certainly never a First Class cricketer however, and as soon as he left school went straight into employment with the Melbourne Sun-Herald Group.
When he was introduced to O’Reilly Robinson had yet to become a cricket writer, and at that time simply reported on whatever his employer asked him to. His involvement in the game began when he started sub-editing the cricket reports during the Bodyline series of 1932/33. He was doing that job when the word ‘bodyline’ began to be used. The first use of the expression was by journalist Jack Worrall, who wrote of half pitched slingers on the body line. Joining the two words and using the result as a noun or adjective was something that Robinson wasn’t permitted to do when first he wanted to. As matters stand therefore the credit for the actual first use of the word goes to a staff writer at the Melbourne Herald, Hugh Buggy, and not to Robinson.
His efforts on the 1932/33 tour earned Robinson the opportunity to travel to England for the return series in 1934, and it is from then on that his writing started to appear regularly in newspapers and magazines both in England and Australia. Few books on the game, Ashes accounts apart, were published in Australia at this time and despite Robinson’s reputation growing with all that he wrote it was to be 1946 before the first of his seven books appeared.
During the war, whilst Neville Cardus was in Australia, a lasting friendship developed between him and Robinson. It is clear that to some extent Robinson was influenced by Cardus, but then all writers who followed Cardus were. In terms of style a better comparison might however be the lighter touch of ‘Crusoe’ Robertson-Glasgow. An example is Robinson’s view on Cardus, a turn of phrase that might have come from the pen of Crusoe himself; Cardus did for cricket reporting what Parker did for pens, and Heinz did for beans.
Cardus was in many ways responsible for Robinson’s first book, Between Wickets, getting published at all. Robinson sent the finished manuscript to Cardus who, deeply impressed by what he read, sent it to William Collins, the UK publisher, with his recommendation. The book duly appeared and, after Robinson had spent the summer of 1948 in England with Bradman’s ‘Invincibles’, a new and expanded edition appeared.
Between Wickets is a book of essays on the cricket and cricketers that Robinson had seen. Bradman inevitably looms large, but there are many other points of reference. A personal favourite is a chapter on the subject of Stan McCabe, the batsman above all others who clearly caught Robinson’s imagination; the sight of the ball leaving the bowler’s hand set him thinking of a stroke, not of keeping it out of his stumps. He could not play a cheap shot, even to save his wicket. He was beyond the ordinary measures of scoring, consistency and safety. Generally McCabe eschewed easy runs, but is remembered for three of the great Test match innings. Robinson went on; his big innings were masterpieces, not adapted to mass production, and were produced in response to his side’s pressing need.
The famous Bodyline controversy raised it’s head in Between Wickets as well. In some ways it is a little odd that the account published at the same time by Jack Fingleton, Cricket Crisis, is still regarded as one of the best accounts of the series. Robinson’s views are equally perceptive and just as measured yet seem rarely to be referred to. One comment in particular has always struck me as a telling one; long before he was warmly applauded for his innings of 98 in the final Test, Larwood had needed no recorder of sound waves to discover that the angry billows of noise from the crowd were directed not at him personally but at the methods used.
After Between Wickets two more similar collections of essays followed in 1951 and 1955. From the Boundary was first, followed by The Glad Season in 1955 (the title in Australia was Green Sprigs). After that Robinson published only one more book before retiring from journalism, and that one wasn’t a cricket book. The Wit of Robert Menzies was published in 1966. It is slightly odd, given the popularity of the genre at the time, that despite accompanying all of Australia’s major touring parties up to and including the 1961 Ashes series Robinson never wrote a tour account, nor even gathered together in book form his reports from one of the series he followed.
Robinson retired in 1970, and after that he published two more cricket books. The first, in 1972, was The Wildest Tests, the stories of matches characterised by trouble, either on or off the pitch. Finally in 1975 he produced his magnum opus, On Top Down Under, a collection of essays on each of Australia’s Test captains, a book he had been working on for a number of years.
The absence of the sort of volume of output that comprises many cricket writers’ oeuvres would seem to be explained simply by the fact that Robinson seems to have been able to earn a decent living from writing. In a booklet published 14 years after his death, in 1996, fellow writer Phillip Derriman recounts a story of Robinson telling him that he had made enough money from Between Wickets to buy a house. Derriman adds the somewhat wistful observation that at the time his piece was published a cricket author would do well to make enough from a book just to paint a house!
For a number years prior to his leaving the press box Robinson’s health had been somewhat fragile, but he did enjoy a twelve year retirement before departing this mortal coil after an unfortunate accident at his home in 1982. In a little over six months Australian cricket writing had lost both Robinson and Fingleton. Former Australian all-rounder Alan Davidson’s tribute to Robinson was as meaningful as any; we nicknamed him “Sugar” Ray Robinson after the best fighter in the world because we reckoned he was the best cricket writer in the world pound for pound. His books were masterpieces, the research incredible. He was not just a writer, he was a friend of cricket.
A key word from that Davidson quote is ‘friend’. No one seems to have a bad word to say about Robinson and indeed he was, unusually for a journalist, universally popular amongst the players. The Cricketer’s obituarist made the observation that Robinson was accepted in the Australian dressing room as if he were the twelfth man, and no doubt the insights he gained as a result are part of what set his writing apart. When Ronald Cardwell, a great admirer of Robinson, decided a few years ago to start publishing a journal of Australian cricket I suspect there would never have been any doubts as to the title it would bear, and through Between Wickets a modern cricket tragic is regularly reminded of the book that remains one of the very best on the subject of Australian cricket.
The ICC cricket world cup that started on May 30 will be officially ending in July 14th 2019, and this will mark the end of the 12th edition of the competition since its inauguration way back in 1975. The 2019 tournament is being hosted by England and it is now clear that England and New Zealand will be the two teams that will be battling it out in the finals. England are 3 time finalist and New Zealand played their first final in 2015. Both are yet to lift the trophy. The question lingering on most people’s lips is – who is it going to be? Is it going to be England or New Zealand? One thing is for sure, that we will have a new Cricket World Champion after 23 years (Sri Lanka became champions in 1996).
This match is scheduled to be played on the 14th of July 2019. It is going to be the 12th edition of the ICC world cup final, one that has witnessed the culmination of 45 group stage matches and 2 semi-finals that have been played over a period of 7 weeks.
Since the change of the format of the tournament in 2015, all the ten teams that have been participating at the tournament have since had to face each other and for this reason, there isn’t any escape for anyone! This has really helped to add to the excitement and drama that characterize the Cricket World Cup. Indeed the 2019 cricket tourney heralded the most unpredictable tournament, as there were several evenly matched teams that participated.
What are the latest odds of the winner?
For punters who love to place their bets on a big tournament such as the Cricket World Cup 2019, taking an interest on a top contending team like England is just great. Going by their good run at the tournament so far, England stand a big chance to beat New Zealand to lift the cup. A look at the odds offered by the various online bookmakers also shows that England is more likely to win the match (England – 1/3 New Zealand – 13/5). You can perform an online search for the full list of the latest free bet offers of the big match to find out more. Betfair and Paddy Power both offers 3/10 on England win and 5/2 on New Zealand win where as BetHard suggest 5/18 for England win. Bet365 has 1.30 odds for England and 3.75 for New Zealand.
So who will be the possible Cricket World Cup 2019 winner?
England is going into the match with their heads held up and also as favorites to win the cup for obvious reasons. It is the fourth time they are in the final while New Zealand is in the finals for the second time. England managed to beat New Zealand in the group stages quite easily and it is very much possible for them to beat them again in the final. We are also talking about a team that is playing with the home ground advantage, a feat they seem to really taking advantage of, going by their impressive run so far.
Even though England are perceived as the potential and likely winners of the much anticipated final coming on the Sunday 14th July, there is a possibility that New Zealand could still pull a surprise package for the host team. In these games you never know for sure who the actual winner will be until it is over and done! And England has tendency to choke in Finals (3 World Cup finals, 2 ICC Champions Trophy finals, 1 World T20 final). However, going by keen match analysis so far since the start of the seven week long tournament that brought together a total of ten teams, England has shown an exceptional performance that has earned them the title of ‘favorites’ to win.
Currently England is currently No. 1 ODI team. Since their early exit in 2015 edition, they have adapted a more aggressive style of playing under the leadership of Coach Trevor Bayliss and stewardship of Captain Eoin Morgan. These impressive statistics give them an upper hand as they head into Sunday’s game.
So where exactly is the venue of the final game?
The game is scheduled to begin at 10.30 am British Summer Time at home the cricket, Lord’s in London. This is the same venue that the inaugural Cricket World Cup of 1975 was held. It’s also the same place that hosted the world cup finals of 1979, 1983 and 1999. We hope for an exciting match and may the best team wins!
After how many Test matches can an average be treated as a true measure of a batsman’s worth? Most seem agreed that in order to be considered a good Test batsman a man has to average at least forty, and that the mark of a great is a figure north of fifty. Are fifteen matches enough? If so then the fact that Trinidadian Charlie Davis is all but forgotten is, to say the least, unfair. Between 1968 and 1973 Davis played three Tests against Australia, three against England, four against India and five against New Zealand. He ended up with 1,301 runs at an average of 54.20. Of those who have batted more than twenty times in Tests, and excluding those currently plying their trade, only seventeen men in the history of the game have finished with a higher mark.
Davis was born in Trinidad on New Year’s Day in 1944. There was no family history of cricketing prowess, but Davis’ mother played hockey for Trinidad, and he was not the only one of her five children to play cricket for Trinidad and West Indies. Elder brother Bryan was an opening batsman who played four times in the Caribbean against Australia in 1964/65 recording three half centuries, but not passing 68. He was talked about from time to time after that but, perhaps surprisingly in view of the fact that it was not until the early 1970s that West Indies had a settled opening pair, was never selected again.
As a 17 year old Davis recorded his first century in just his second First Class appearance, for North Trinidad against South Trinidad. Six months later he got his second against British Guiana, a particularly impressive performance bearing in mind he came in at 15-4, and after his side slipped to 81-7 he shepherded the tail up to 257. The innings neither avoided the follow on nor, ultimately, defeat, but it showed Davis had the temperament to deal with pressure situations.
With India touring the Caribbean in 1961/62 and after that spectacular start Davis might have been capped soon after his eighteenth birthday. He was named in a ‘squad’ of 23 for the Test series although in the event no place opened up for him. At this point Davis might have been lost to West Indies cricket completely as his early impact had been noted more than 4,000 miles away in Gloucestershire. The county offered terms to both Davis brothers, but professional cricket in England, which would have involved giving up any hope of a Test cap and a long wait for a residential qualification appealed to neither. At the other end of his career, once the counties were able to specially register overseas players, Bryan did spend a couple of successful summers with Glamorgan, but it was never a way of life that his younger brother considered.
By the time England, under Colin Cowdrey, arrived in the Caribbean in the New Year of 1968 Davis was on the verge of Test selection. He played against the tourists in their first big game of the tour, for a Board President’s XI, and scored an unbeaten 158. In his account of the tour Brian Close wrote that he played with such confidence and freedom that his century looked inevitable. Davis lined up against Cowdrey’s men again in their next match, on his home ground in Port of Spain. He scored 68 and 62.
The selectors must have thought long and hard about including Davis in the side for the first Test, also to be played in Trinidad, but in the end could not find a place for him. Davis and his fellow Trinidadians must have been disappointed, but the only place he might have taken was that of Clive Lloyd, who had had an excellent first series against India the year before. In the circumstances the decision to omit Davis was a reasonable one and despite the series eventually going England’s way after that remarkably generous declaration by Garry Sobers in the fourth Test West Indies’ problem that series was their bowling, rather than their batting, and no middle order vacancies appeared.
In 1968/69 West Indies, for the first time since the historic 1960/61 series, visited Australia. His deeds against MCC remembered Davis was in the party, although he was still unable to force his way into the side for the first Test, won by West Indies thanks in large part to a fine century by Lloyd. The centurion went on to damage a forearm in the field however, and was consequently unfit for the second Test. Davis, described as off colour, also had fitness problems but did make his debut, albeit not in place of Lloyd but, having just taken seven wickets in a state match with his occasional right arm medium pace, instead of all-rounder David Holford, who despite taking a couple of wickets had failed twice with the bat in the first Test.
West Indies batted poorly at the MCG and were 170-6 when, batting at eight, Davis joined Roy Fredericks. Seven runs later Fredericks was gone as well, to be immediately followed by Jackie Hendriks, and although Davis batted well he was bowled for 18 by Graham McKenzie with the new ball, looking for opportunities to farm the strike. The use of a nightwatchman in the second innings brought Davis in at nine, and it was a repeat performance. He looked comfortable enough but went for 10. Australia won by an innings. In the Australian innings Davis did have the pleasure of taking the first of his two Test wickets, Bill Lawry, but ‘The Phantom’ was 205 at the time.
For the third Test of the series Lloyd was back and, his replacement Fredericks having been one of the few to emerge from the MCG with any credit, it was Davis who made way. With just a single half century and an average of 16 for the tour as a whole Davis did not get another chance as Australia won two and drew one of the remaining three Tests.
For some reason Davis did however find that niche in Australia with the ball. All told he took 21 wickets at 30.66 to finish top of the tour averages with his right arm medium pace. It was a false dawn, but a useful one for Davis as it persuaded the selectors to take him to England for their visit here in the first half of the 1969 summer, as an all-rounder.
Perhaps surprisingly England, a happy hunting ground for gentle medium pacers, saw Davis reverse his Australian experience. His seven wickets on the tour cost almost seventy runs each, and in the averages he was last of thirteen. Fortunately for him however he made some progress with the bat in a three Test series that the visitors lost 2-0. The paying public, who had watched Sobers lead his 1966 side to a stunning victory saw just five of that party returning, a less than fully fit Sobers and Caribbean cricket in disappointing decline.
The first Test, at Old Trafford, was won by England by ten wickets, helped in part by some slack fielding with Davis bearing his share of the blame. With the bat he top scored with 34 in the first innings and then added 24 in the second. The Sage of Longparish, John Woodcock, described him in The Cricketer as batting splendidly, but not for long enough.
The Lord’s Test was by far the best of the three, the game ending with England 37 runs short of victory with three wickets to fall. In the West Indies first innings Davis had put on exactly with 50 with his captain when, in a misunderstanding that certainly appeared to be Davis’ fault, Sobers found himself in no man’s land to give Geoffrey Boycott an easy run out. Davis decided the only way to avoid the wrath of his teammates was to stay in the middle for as long as possible, and he did so for over six hours. In that time he scored 103 and was in defensive mode throughout. Close would certainly not have applied the same description to this incarnation of Davis as he had to that of the previous year.
After his intense feat of concentration in the first innings Davis was out for a duck, for the only time in his Test career, in the second. The third Test was, on a personal level, much the same as the first for Davis as he scored 18 and 29, but the English margin of victory was rather different, just thirty runs, so another half hour from Davis after one or other of those starts and the series might easily have been shared.
By the time West Indies were next in Test action, against India at home in early 1971, Davis was out of favour once again and missed the first Test of what became a historic series the Indians, courtesy of four draws and a victory in the second Test, winning a major series overseas for the first time. The first Test was drawn, and there was much controversy over the claims for batting places of Jamaicans Lawrence Rowe and Maurice Foster being ignored. Contemporary reports express no such concerns over Davis’ omission.
The Indian spin attack having shocked the West Indians by making them follow on in the first Test the selectors thought long and hard about the batting for the second and Davis, who had made exactly 100 in Trinidad’s game against the tourists, and in doing so made Venkat look rather less troublesome than he had appeared the first Test, was eventually given the nod to replace the injured ‘Joey’ Carew, his fellow countryman.
Sobers won the toss and chose to bat. By the end of the first day Bishan Bedi and Erapalli Prasanna, with a bit of help from Syed Abid Ali and Venkat, had bowled their hosts out for just 214. The one batsman to impress was Davis, unbeaten on 71 at the end. In the second innings he was promoted from five to first drop, and was unbeaten on 33 at the end of the third day as, on 150-1, West Indies had just managed to wipe out their first innings deficit. There was a freak accident on the fourth morning as a ball came through a net and hit Davis, necessitating a quick trip to hospital and seven stitches in a cut under the eye. Sadly a collapse followed, but not through any fault of Davis who was once more unbeaten at the fall of the last wicket, this time on 74.
For the third Test the teams moved on to Guyana and another draw. For Davis there were innings of 34 and 125*, but there was little in the pitch for the bowlers and the Indians easily batted out time. Moving on to Barbados for the fourth Test there was a similar result with Davis, as he had in Guyana, having the pleasure of the best seat in the house during a vintage Sobers century. The pair had added 170 at Bourda and this time it was a stand of 167. In the match Davis added innings of 79 and 22* to his tally.
The fifth and final Test saw the West Indies pressing hard for victory back at Port of Spain and a third major partnership (177 this time) between Sobers and Davis. The Indians were held to 326 in first innings before, thanks to 105 from Davis, the West Indians took a lead of 166. They were eventually left to chase 262 for victory. They gave it their best shot but, in the end, it was the Indians pressing, 96 runs on, for the last two West Indian wickets. Davis, coming in at eight, scored 19. He was left with a series average of 132.75, which he might reasonably have expected to be the best on either side. This was not, however, a normal series, a 21 year old Sunil Gavaskar averaging the small matter of 154.80.
A year later the New Zealanders visited the Caribbean for the first time, and there were five Tests scheduled. Neither side was very strong in bowling, so it was perhaps not so surprising that none of the Tests managed to produce a positive result. The first match, in Jamaica, saw local hero Lawrence Rowe make his famous double hundred on debut, 214, followed by 100 not out in the second innings. Davis scored 31 and 41. The West Indians always held the upper hand, but a double century from Glenn Turner and a century from future captain Geoff Howarth saw New Zealand to a draw without too many alarms.
The two teams moved on to Port of Spain for the second Test and this time it was New Zealand’s turn to hold a slight initiative throughout. Bev Congdon scored a big hundred for the visitors and for the West Indies Davis’ 90 and 29 were both important innings.
The third Test had a sensational start as, winning the toss and choosing to bat, the home side were reduced to 12-4 with Davis out for just a single. There was a slight recovery but 133 all out looked hopelessly inadequate as Congdon and Brian Hastings both scored centuries to take a lead of 289. West Indies did rather better second time round but when their fifth wicket fell at 171 defeat looked inevitable. At that point however the Sobers/Davis double act reprised its performances of the previous summer and added 254. After Sobers went for 142 Davis went on and on to a ten hour 183, and by the time he was eventually run out with his side on 544 the spectre of defeat was long gone.
The fourth Test in Guyana was spoiled in part by the weather, and in part by a nine hour opening partnership of 387 between Turner and Terry Jarvis in New Zealand’s first innings. The match petered out into a tame draw, Davis’ one visit to the crease bringing him a modest 28. The fifth Test the home side should have won, but in a relatively low scoring game, time again being lost to rain, the New Zealanders still had three wickets standing at the end after Ken Wadsworth and Bruce Taylor batted out the final hour and three quarters. For Davis there had been innings of 40 and 23, once more illustrating that he rarely failed, but had a habit of getting out after doing the hard work. His series figures were inevitably not as impressive as the year before, but he still had an average of 58.25.
At the end of the New Zealand series Davis was 28, and might have played Test cricket to the end of the decade, but as it was there were to be just two more Test matches. A lack of success heightened the tensions that always existed in West Indies cricket and there were real problems when the Australians arrived in 1972/73, the most serious of which was that Garry Sobers didn’t play. For the first three Tests Davis did not play either, much to the annoyance of Trinidadians. Davis himself was hugely disappointed, after all his recent success, to not even make the initial selection of 23 names.
At the start of the series the home side, now led by Kanhai, played pretty well but, having eventually selected Davis for the fourth Test after a narrow defeat there was a horrible batting collapse in the West Indies’ second innings, and defeat by ten wickets. Davis made five in the first knock and, in the second innings debacle of 109 all out he scored 16. In the final Test Davis scored 25 and 24 to help his side avoid defeat.
In 1973 West Indies toured England, with a series in the Caribbean due to take place the following year. By then however Davis had all but retired. He was said to be unavailable for the tour for business reasons, although the reality was rather more prosaic. The simple fact was that playing cricket for West Indies in those days paid next to nothing, and Davis needed a regular income, so he stayed behind.
At the time Davis was employed by the West Indian Tobacco Company. At the end of the New Zealand series he had been told that the company had it in mind to promote him to Sales Manager. There were strings attached however, as whilst the company did not mind Davis the District Sales Representative taking off as much time as he wanted to play international cricket, they could not be so indulgent with a Sales Manager.
Davis was given as much time as he wanted to mull the decision over, but when his name was not on that list of 23 he felt it was time to concentrate on his business career. He informed the company that he would not be touring again, and in return they agreed that if selected he would be able to play in home Tests although in the event he decided, after those two disappointing matches at the end of the series, to retire completely from international cricket.
As things turned out Davis did not stay with the West Indian Tobacco Company for too long, choosing to move into advertising with a company in which he eventually rose to become a director, but then health problems hit Davis hard.
First of all he suffered a freak injury in a football match in 1979. An eye was damaged by a goalkeeper’s finger and, despite treatment in the US and UK as well as at home in Trinidad, he lost the sight in that eye. Then in 1983 he was diagnosed with Multiple Sclerosis. The cost of all his medical treatment took away the assets he had built up in his successful years in business.
Despite his sight problems Davis certainly could still spot a talented young cricketer and in the early 1980s insisted that his old friend Sobers take a look at a young man for whom Davis foresaw a great future, notwithstanding that the youngster was so small he could barely hit the ball off the square – there was certainly nothing wrong with Davis’ judgment of a player – the young man in question was Brian Lara.
Sadly the Davis marriage ended in divorce a few years after his MS diagnosis and for some time now he has been unable to live independently. Nonetheless he has astonished his medical advisers with his resilience. By all accounts he should be in a wheelchair, but he isn’t, and with the aid of a stick still manages to get himself out to a mall in Port of Spain for lunch with old friends two or three times a week. These days he can only manage a couple of hours at a time, but there is no self-pity, and his sense of humour is still intact, even if his wits are not as sharp as they once were.
Davis has two children, both of whom left Trinidad to go to University in the USA and did not return. Nonetheless Davis is still close to his 48 year old daughter and her family who live in New Orleans, and his 45 year old son who lives with his family in Tampa. All of them reunited in Trinidad five years ago for a seventieth birthday party for Davis, and despite his difficulties he still travels to the US as often as he can and is well looked after by the airlines who fly him there. The last 36 years have not been easy for Charlie Davis, but his stoicism in the face of adversity is perhaps exactly what is to be expected given the way he played his cricket.
Note – I began writing this feature several months ago. Davis’ cricket career is well chronicled but finding out anything of substance about his life outside the game proved difficult. In the end I was able to contact Bryan Davis, who was kind enough to fill in the gaps. I am most grateful to him.
The first Test series between England and the West Indies was played in 1928 when a team led by Karl Nunes came to England to play three Tests. They returned and did the same again in 1933 and 1939. During the period England twice visited the Caribbean, in 1929/30 and 1934/35. No account of any of those tours was published at the time, although they are referred to at some length in some more general historical or biographical books. England won their home series easily enough, but sides shorn of the very best England players struggled in the Caribbean. The 1929/30 series was shared, and five years later West Indies won a Test series for the first time.
Eventually the 75th anniversary of that 1928 tour saw the release of a book, A Nation Imagined, written by the Bajan academic Hilary Beckles. News hot of the press is that a book on the 1933 and 1934/35 tours entitled A War to the Knife is about to be self-published by Richard Bentley.
In 1947/48 England visited the Caribbean. For the third time MCC seriously misjudged the strength of the West Indians in home conditions but even a late call to Len Hutton to reinforce an understrength side could not prevent a West Indian victory. There is one account of the tour, written by Roland Garrett and published in the Caribbean. Copies are seldom seen.
In 1950 England once again under-estimated the talent of a West Indian team, although as they were at home and at full strength themselves there were no excuses. The visitors won a famous 3-1 victory that was celebrated in great style by the Windrush generation. Calypsos were recorded and released, but just one book, John Arlott’s Days at the Cricket, appeared at the time. Fifty years later in 2000 Vijay Kumar published Cricket Lovely Cricket, a beautifully produced book with a limited edition signed by each of the six survivors of the trip. It was a fitting tribute to Kumar’s countrymen of fifty years previously, even if the author did rather blot his copybook later when he was jailed for the theft of cricket books and memorabilia.
England’s 1953/54 trip to West Indies was certainly the most controversial tour since ‘Bodyline’ and the 2-2 draw was the subject of full length books from English journalists, Alex Bannister and EW ‘Jim’ Swanton. Both are worth reading but the book I am really looking forward to is a retrospective account that I am assured is to be one of Fairfield Books’ final offerings.
The West Indies side that toured England in 1957 was full of great players, the problem was that without exception all were either at the end of their careers, or had barely set out on them. England won the series comfortably and only the veteran writer Bruce Harris, whose first cricket book had been written about the ‘Bodyline’ tour, went into print; West Indies Cricket Challenge is the title.
In 1959/60 England finally managed to win a series in the Caribbean, thirty years after their first attempt. There were two books on the tour, both published in England. Swanton’s is a decent account but the better by a distance is Through the Caribbean by Alan Ross, one of the very best of tour accounts.
At this stage the number of tour books appearing was on the wane, but the genre still had some life in it and the visit of Frank Worrell’s West Indians in 1963 inspired four books. Full accounts of the trip were published by John Clarke, Ian Wooldridge and John Barker, but once again the best book was by Alan Ross, The West Indies at Lord’s, even it it was concerned only with the nail biting draw in the second Test.
The 1966 West Indians, led this time by Garry Sobers, won a superb series in the summer the England soccer team won the World Cup. Neither of the two accounts of the series, Everything That’s Cricket by John Clarke and King Cricket by Sobers himself do justice to the quality of the cricket played.
In 1967/68 England visited the Caribbean again, a series they won thanks to an infamous declaration by Sobers in the fourth Test. The man who should have captained the England side, Brian Close, spent the tour in the press box and wrote a book on the tour. Again Barker was responsible for a tour account and, a year or so later the series was one of three covered in Henry Blofeld’s Cricket in Three Moods. Close’s contribution is probably the best, but none are classics of the genre. Also covered in Blofeld’s book was the West Indies short three Test visit to England in 1969.
Sobers’ swansong was in the Caribbean in 1973/74 and the visit of Mike Denness’s England side. There were two books this time, firstly a traditional tour account, Testing Time, from Christopher Martin-Jenkins, and also a rather more eccentric publication from Michael Gibbes that was published in Trinidad with the same title. CMJ’s account is an excellent one, and Gibbes’ book is certainly worth buying if a copy becomes available.
The first incarnation of the West Indies side that would dominate world cricket for two decades came to England in 1976. The series played out in that long hot summer changed the tone of the game forever, yet the only contemporary account was a scorebook from BBC scorer Bill Frindall. It would be 30 years before David Tossell published Grovel, one of the best, if not the best retrospective story of a cricket tour ever written.
England did not visit West Indies between 1976 and 1980 when, the home side led for the first time by Ian Botham, the men in the maroon caps returned to England. Botham’s team avoided defeat in three of the Tests, so actually did pretty well. There was no tour book however, although three did appear covering the return visit in 1980/81, a trip overshadowed by the tragic death of Kenny Barrington. The authors in question were Peter Smith and Geoffrey Boycott with two workmanlike accounts, and a rather more enjoyable book from the always readable Frank Keating; Another Bloody Day in Paradise.
For some reason publishers decided to give the 1984 West Indies series, the first of the back to back ‘blackwashes’ a miss. It was a grim series for England supporters, but if ever a series cried out for a retrospective account then surely it is this one. Perhaps one day we will see it.
The second ‘blackwash’ came in 1985/86, immediately after the Ashes were regained. The only book written on the trip was a very good one by the writer wife of England left arm spinner Phil, Frances Edmonds. Another Bloody Tour is well worth reading and, not unexpectedly, quite unlike other tour books.
Another 5-0 thrashing was avoided in 1988, but after a decent start in the drawn first Test England, with their captain constantly changing, quickly subsided to a 4-0 defeat by losing the remaining Tests without putting up too much of a fight. West Indian Summer looked at the series through the eyes of Alan Ross and the lens of Patrick Eagar, and in 2015 Neil Robinson, the man with the wonderful job of being the MCC librarian, published a retrospective account, Long Shot Summer.
England locked horns with the West Indies again in 1989/90 in the Caribbean. Remarkably they won the first Test and might have won the third. The fourth and fifth Tests were lost and with them the series but the interest stirred by that victory led to the release of three books. Richard Evans’ The Ultimate Test is probably the best, but Graham Gooch (Test of Fire) and David Gower (On the Rack) also gave their names to books.
England could not beat the West Indians in 1991, but at Headingley Gooch played the innings that the compilers of Masterly Batting assessed as the finest Test innings of them all. In the end the series was tied at 2-2. There were two books on the series. The first was A Tale of Two Captains, a very nicely produced limited edition from Boundary Books written by Bill Frindall. The other was from Jack Bannister; Jack in the Box.
And that, I am afraid, is that as far as West Indies are concerned, other than to mention Phil Tufnell’s Postcards from the Beach on the subject of the 1997/98 series and, for completeness, a reference to Samuel Canynge Caple’s England v The West Indies 1895-1957, completed prior to the 1957 series, and thus dealing with the contests up to an including that of 1953/54.
In early May 1993 Marcus Trescothick made his First Class debut for Somerset. He was just 17 and was selected to open the batting with the prodigiously talented Mark Lathwell, a relative veteran at 21. Later that summer Lathwell would play in two Ashes Tests, but he never fulfilled his early promise and left the game before he turned 30.
Back in May 1993 there was no suggestion that Trescothick would go on to emulate Lathwell let alone anything more. He scored 1 and 3 against Lancashire, courtesy of a couple of snicks through the slips, dismissed in each innings by England’s Phil DeFreitas. It is a match that, as a Lancastrian, I recall quite well. The Red Rose needed a mere 88 in the fourth innings to win, but thanks to a career best 9-32 from Andy Caddick they failed by 15 runs.
For Somerset’s next match, which he would otherwise have played in, Trescothick was out after an injury sustained in a club match. He did make the first team twice more that season, but scores of 6,0,4 and 0 meant he ended the summer at the bottom of the Somerset averages, with an ignominious 2.66. His three List A appearances were a little more successful, but all in all it was not an auspicious start.
In 1994 Trescothick again made the side against Lancashire in May. He scored 7 and 0 in an innings defeat. Somerset stuck with him though and he played in the next game against Hampshire. His life flashed before him on two when, facing West Indian paceman Winston Benjamin, he popped up a straightforward catch to Tony Middleton at short leg. Luck was on Trescothick’s side however as Middleton spilled the chance. As Trescothick wrote in his autobiography I could have kissed him. He went on to make 81 and never looked back. At the end of 1994 only county captain Andy Hayhurst headed him in the county averages.
In its 1994 edition Wisden chose not to make mention of Trescothick’s disastrous start, but waxed lyrical the following year in describing him as the discovery of the year. A huge future was predicted, but then Trescothick’s career stalled, and not just for a single season. In 1995 and 1997 his performances were woeful, and although a little better in 1996 and 1998 he remained inconsistent and certainly was not shaping up as a future England player.
What was the problem? Throughout his life Trescothick had found run scoring easy. Physically he was an early developer and he dominated throughout the age groups without having to work too hard on his technique. As a result there were deficiencies, mainly as a result of limited footwork and a desire to hammer everything outside the off stump. The wily old pros on the county circuit quickly worked out that Trescothick could resist anything except temptation, and there were many avoidable dismissals.
By 1999 Trescothick had curbed some of the excesses and had a better summer culminating in September in a dominant innings of 167 out of 256 scored whilst he was at the wicket. The significance of the innings, against Glamorgan, was that the watching Glamorgan coach was Duncan Fletcher, due to take over the helm of the England team a few days later. Fletcher spoke to his Somerset counterpart, Dermot Reeve, who gave Trescothick’s shot selection a less than enthusiastic reference. Fletcher’s reaction, thankfully, was I could not believe it, because he should just have been put at the top of the order and told to get on with it.
It would be the following April before Trescothick and Fletcher ever spoke, but Fletcher made sure that Trescothick was selected for the England A tour of Bangladesh and New Zealand that winter. His performances on the trip were patchy, and the party’s manager, Mike Gatting, was little more enthusiastic about Trescothick in his reports to Fletcher than Reeve had been. Again however Fletcher stuck to his guns and selected Trescothick for the first time in an ODI against Zimbabwe in July 2000. He scored 79 in a defeat which, without his century partnership with Graeme Hick, would have been of embarrassing proportions.
Within four weeks Trescothick was making his Test debut against a West Indies side whose attack was still led by a couple of true greats, Courtney Walsh and Curtley Ambrose. The selectors had been trying Mark Ramprakash as Mike Atherton’s opening partner, but dropped him after the second Test. Trescothick’s 66 and 38* helped England to a draw, and the opener’s job was filled for the next six years.
That six year period brought Trescothick 76 Test caps and he also appeared in 123 ODIs and, in the format’s earliest days, three successful T20 Internationals. His Test career ended with an average of 43.79 and 14 centuries. In ODIs there were a dozen centuries and an average of 37.37. His strike rate was 85. All things considered the finest of those innings is certainly the 180 against South Africa that James Mettyear so vividly reconstructs in the accompanying extract from Masterly Batting, but for most the best memories of Trescothick at the crease come from the heady days of the Ashes 2005, and his 90 on the first morning of the Edgbaston Test, as well as the several other significant contributions he made to that magical summer.
It is impossible to look at Trescothick’s international record without wondering what might have been. The depressive illness which so affected him on tour and brought about that early retirement from the international game must have had a negative impact on those 76 matches and, impressive though the figures are how much better might they have been? And what sort of records might have been set had Trescothick played at the top, as he might well have, for another decade? Trescothick’s record is, as it stands, that of a very good batsman, but statistics don’t always tell the whole truth, and at his peak Trescothick was up there with the very best.
The story of Trescothick’s battle with his demons is compellingly told in his 2008 autobiography, Coming Back to Me, but despite the hopes that lingered amongst most of us for many years there was never any suggestion from Trescothick that he might feel able to reverse his decision. His absence from the international stage was all the more frustrating because of the way he continued his First Class career. After a mediocre 2006, when his demons were at their worst, Trescothick came back with a vengeance in 2007 and for the next five seasons was a dominant force in English county cricket. In 2009 he was the highest run scorer in the country with 1,817 and fifth in the averages at 75.70. Two years later he topped the runs table again with 1,673 and this time 79.33 gave him the second best average.
Ankle surgery meant that Trescothick missed a large chunk of the 2012 summer and in 2013, although he was able to play a full season, he missed his thousand runs and failed to reach three figures even once. It was tempting to conclude that anno domino had caught up with him, but those of us who thought that were proved wrong as he then enjoyed three more summers of rich pickings before, as he passed his fortieth birthday, the big scores began to prove more elusive.
Thus far 2019 has been a disappointment for Trescothick and his legion of fans, hence undoubtedly his decision to call time on his career at the end of this summer. Let us hope that there is time left for at least one more big score from the Trescothick blade and, as a man whose horse is currently in the second division, nothing would please me more than to see his swan song coincide with the Championship pennant flying, for the first time, over the County Ground at Taunton.
When most England cricket fans think of 2005, their thoughts turn immediately to the great Ashes series which took place during the British summer of that year. However, in the preceding South African summer, Marcus Trescothick gave us a taste of things to come in Johannesburg. In Masterly Batting, author James Mettyear recalled the events leading to what the editors of that book determined to be the seventh best Test century of all time, and in tribute to the recent retiree CricketWeb is proud to feature that essay in its entirety.
When Marcus Trescothick took guard at the start of England’s second innings of the fourth Test at The Wanderers, he did so amid muttered disquiet from within the ranks of the travelling press corps. He had failed in the first innings, launching himself at a full delivery from Dale Steyn with his front foot some way from the ball and edging to Mark Boucher for 16. Caught behind: a not unfamiliar mode of dismissal. His form had been patchy throughout the series and what with the Ashes in the coming English summer and his record found wanting against Glenn McGrath and Jason Gillespie in particular, there were calls from some to drop him down the order and so ‘protect him from the moving ball’.
It was not for the first time. Even when he was blasting the quickest and most skilful of fast men or the most skilful of spinners with an exhilarating dominance perhaps not seen in an England opener since Colin Milburn briefly flared, there remained among many English cricket followers, persistent doubts about Tressie.
It was not that they mistrusted the man. This cricketing son of Somerset with a name as if chiselled from a Cornish tin mine; the apple-cheeked yeoman whose natural affability hid a staunch dependability as sure as his bucket hands in the slips, was a stalwart, plain and simple. Self-effacing, loyal, the archetypal good egg. As Michael Vaughan put it in his 2005 autobiography: ‘He is the ultimate team player…just about as dependable a guy as there is in the dressing room’.
No, it was not the man we worried about. At least, not then, not before he had told us, with such brave candour, of his illness. It was not the man. It was the technique. The technique, honed though we knew it to have been, that triggered the unease. The feet were the problem. Despite the honing, they didn’t seem to want to move and were thus heretical to the long held orthodoxy that they must. Small wonder the likes of Christopher Martin-Jenkins remained ever unconvinced.
But it wasn’t just the purists. We all, as England followers, couldn’t help but fret in the early stages of a Tresco knock. Even if he’d biffed his way to a quick-fire 30 odd, it could still be akin to watching a man on a tightrope. When the mechanism clicked and the rhythm was right, then the coming together of all the workings – head and body held guardsman still and straight; the reflex to gorge outside off stump held in check; outstanding eye, consummate timing and effortless power – all held him in perfect balance and never looking down, he seemed to glide fearlessly, in a bubble of sustained concentration high above the context of the game, of the attack, of the world outside his immediate gaze.
But then, at other times, as in the first innings of this game, as if dulled by doubt, he would prod or lunge, stiff-legged, leaden-footed and then topple and fall. And when he fell, he would plummet, dropping like a stone through all the strata of the game to land without safety net amongst the knowing refrain of pundit and public alike: ‘Great eye. Awesome power. Doesn’t move his feet. Club cricketer.’
It was a reluctant chorus for the most part, in deference as it was to his palpable decency and in recognition of all the times it went right, but it was there nonetheless. And, it has to be said, even among his most ardent admirers, not without reason. Throughout Trescothick’s career, periods of serene dominance had been punctuated by alarming slumps in form. As a youth he had blazed his way into the record books. His diet of sausages and fizzy pop and a resultant frame he himself would later describe as ‘on the portly side of chubby’ no impediment to his summary dismissal of age group, senior club and junior international attacks. Leaving his comprehensive school with a single GCSE, he joined the Somerset staff in 1992 at just 16-years-old. His baptism in the first team came the following year and began with so dismal a run of scores – 1, 3, 6, 28, 0, 4, 0, 0, 7, 2 – that the candle lit as schoolboy prodigy was not just guttering but on the point of being permanently snuffed out.
But then the following first full year in the first team, the runs flowed again. He scored 2.500 of them in all forms of cricket, including 924 at 48.63 in the County Championship. Pretty impressive for an 18-year-old. It was to be a year of plenty, however, that presaged nigh on seven of famine. These were the wilderness years when things fell into place only occasionally; his greatest strength, his unquenchable appetite for tucking into balls outside his off stump, also time and time again his undoing. Unfulfilled early promise drifting toward a premature exit from the higher levels of the game. Club cricketer.
In the winter of 1998-99, in a last ditch effort to turn the tide, he battled the homesickness and travelled to Australia to work with Peter Carlstein, the world-renowned South African batting coach, and play grade cricket. And it was there that he had the epiphany that would bring him back from the edge of likely professional oblivion. He describes the moment in his 2008 autobiography Coming Back to Me:
‘And finally, one bright clear day in Perth…one ball in particular told me I was going to be all right. I saw it leave the bowler’s hand, and I recall watching it so closely that the rest of what followed happened in super slow-motion even though it was travelling around mid-80s mph. I saw it pitch about two yards from me and slightly to my offside and realized I had all the time in the world to make a clear choice whether to play it or not. And in the instant I made my decision to leave it, a small happy bomb went off inside my head. I’d got it. By George, I’d got it.’
And he had. Later that summer, on a fast pitch at Taunton under the discerning gaze of the then Glamorgan coach, Duncan Fletcher and carrying with him the new knowledge that he could leave the ball if he wished, he elected not to and hit the then decidedly quick Jaques Kallis repeatedly out of the ground. He reached 167 with 25 fours and five sixes. The next highest score was 50 and he had caught the future England coach’s eye.
Opening his England account with 79 for the one-day side in July 2000 against Zimbabwe, his five-day debut followed the same year in the third Test against the West Indies. He began well, scoring 66 in the first innings and 38 not out to finish with 190 runs at 47.5 in his three games. From that point on, after a lean second series away to Pakistan, Trescothick would remain at the forefront of the Fletcher/Hussain England resurrection that followed the nadir of their home defeat to New Zealand the previous summer. On his first tour, he was asked to join the management committee with an express remit from Nasser Hussain to keep a check on banter drifting into bullying; on the 2002-03 tour to Australia he was appointed vice captain.
By the time of the Johannesburg Test at the start of 2005 he had scored 4,207 Test runs at 42.49, including nine centuries. That the first two of these were in losing causes, served as testament to his ability to hold his head still and clear when those around him were losing theirs. Innings of 122 at Galle against Chaminda Vaas and Mutiah Muralitharan (no other Englishman made 50) and a second innings 117 against Waqar Younis and Wasim Akram at Manchester (again where only one other batsmen reached 50) gave the lie to C M-J’s rather dismissive description of him in the Times before the Wanderers’ Test as one who ‘where the ball is moving through the air or off the pitch is fodder for a thorough-bred bowler.’
And yet, even then there had been wild fluctuations in form. Calmly assured highs, followed by, at the time, baffling lows most, but not all, coinciding with time spent away from Taunton. Times when we’d watch him edge to the cordon yet again, turn and with his knock-kneed stride walk swiftly from the crease, his rounder-shouldered form somehow already softening into the lurking tubbiness he’d fought against since youth. In the 18 months before the 2004-05 tour to South Africa, there’d been an unfulfilling home series against the Proteas until the final match at The Oval where, with a game-moulding 219 in the first innings and an unbeaten 69 in the second, he provided the platform for England to draw the series. There was then an autumn away to Bangladesh (202 runs at 68.66) followed by a scratchy pre-Christmas Sri Lanka tour (167 runs at 27.8); then a bleak spring in the Caribbean (166 at 23.71) before a run-rich home summer in 2004 against New Zealand and the West Indies (641 runs at 53.4). The first six innings in South Africa had seen him register oscillating scores of 47, 0, 18, 132, 28 and 0. Not by any means disastrous but enough to put his us all on edge.
The first three games of the series had ebbed and flowed with the lurching movement of a spring tide. A confident England, ranked number two in the world and unbeaten in 2004, won the first by seven wickets. They stuttered badly in the first innings of the second and then ultimately failed to drive home their advantage allowing the home side to secure a slightly lucky draw. In the third, they emphatically hit the dirt losing to a resurgent South Africa by 196 runs. Level pegging and two to play.
The first three days of the fourth Test followed the same template. England won the toss and on a Wanderers’ pitch of uncharacteristic low bounce, an imperious Andrew Strauss with 147 supported by Robert Key dominated the first two sessions taking the visitors to 227-2 before Key fell for 83. After tea though, a previously sluggish Makhaya Ntini, reinvigorated by an enforced ice bath and the second new ball, took the two late wickets of Strauss and Graham Thorpe just before the close. England stumbled to 263 for 4 at the end of an ultimately disappointing day.
On the second morning, under lowering skies and with Ntini and Shaun Pollock making the most of damp conditions, the England middle order folded before a grafting Vaughan, struggling with timing and confidence and supported first by the lively Ashley Giles and then a free-hitting Steve Harmison, took the tourists to 411-8 at the end of a day shortened by bad light.
With further rain forecast, England declared overnight only to wake to sunny skies and a growing Wanderers’ crowd who saw the hosts, let off the hook by woeful English bowling and dropped catches, take their score to 306-6 at stumps on the third day, Herschelle Gibbs unbeaten for a brilliant hundred. At the start of the fourth day, a weary England failed to polish off the hosts who edged past the visitors total to reach 419.
The tourists began their second innings with just two overs to face before lunch and the rollercoaster game still precariously balanced. With Harmison, Geraint Jones and Ashley Giles all carrying injuries, the predicted course was for England to dig in and make the game safe. Losing the match, and with it all chance of winning the series and with that the spectre of embarking on the long-awaited sold-out Ashes summer with wings clipped, meant that pushing for victory was surely freighted with too great a risk. They would have to bat well to secure the draw.
If that was their plan, they couldn’t have got off to a worse start with Strauss, England’s in-form banker, wafting loosely at Ntini at the start of the second over and falling for a duck. Whichever way they were going to play it, there was much now resting on Strauss’s opening partner.
Trescothick began quietly, struggling a little with his timing. At the end of the seventh over he had scored just six from 19 balls, allowing Key to take the lead. But then in the eighth, leaning forward he clipped Ntini off his legs in front of mid-wicket for his first boundary. In the next over, with Pollock attacking him from round the wicket he repeated the stroke, this time waiting a fraction longer and with his head still and body perfectly balanced, the ball eased backward of square and to the rope. The next delivery, Pollock overcompensated and changed his line to further outside off stump to be met with a firm-footed, arms-free lash to the extra-cover boundary. A Tresco trademark. The next ball, just outside off stump was cut hard, a certain four saved by a sprawling Gibbs in the gully. The fifth, again too straight, was picked up from just outside off stump and flicked between mid-wicket and mid-on. This was perhaps the pivot-point over for Trescothick. Fourteen off it, with three fours and each ball played with a controlled intent that made clear ‘Banger’ was not planning to allow the innings to suffer from a lack of momentum.
He lost Key in the following over to Ntini and at 52-2 a period of retrenchment might have been the order of the day. Rather than a drawing in of the horns, however, what followed was a period of play described even by the lugubrious Bob Willis on commentary as ‘scintillating’. Together with Vaughan, who by the end of his first innings had finally played himself into some sort of form, Trescothick put the South African attack to the sword. By the time his skipper fell to Pollock for 54, he had reached 88 off 141 balls with 13 fours and in a partnership of 124 captain and vice captain had taken their side to 175-3 from 47 overs.
This was Trescothick at his stand and deliver best. There were broadsword drives through extra-cover, slashing cuts backward of point as well as brutal pull shots. One of these, to a quick ball from Kallis pitched just short of a length outside off stump with the upper body swivelling swiftly from a rooted base, sent the ball scudding to the mid-wicket fence before the bowler had completed his follow-through. A crunching exemplar of his awesome power and timing. But there were also rapier thrusts: a deft soft-handed dab through gully off Ntini; a leg glance off Pollock and a late cut off Nicky Boje all instances redolent as much of David Gower as the ‘left-handed Gooch’ Nasser Hussain later dubbed him.
But by the end of the fourth day in a match that often seemed, as Wisden editor Mathew Engel put it, ‘four-sided’, the pendulum had swung yet again. Vaughan’s dismissal was followed swiftly by the wickets of Thorpe for one and Andrew Flintoff for seven and it was no surprise when, unbeaten on 101, Trescothick and an out of touch Geraint Jones took the offer of the light.
With England closing the truncated day on 197-5, just 189 runs ahead, it was the home side who finished the day in the more buoyant mood. Five quick wickets in the morning and then, with Harmison’s calf meaning he was unlikely to bowl and Jimmy Anderson still searching for his radar, a post-lunch run chase was how Boje, South Africa’s stand-in captain after Graeme Smith’s concussion in practice, saw things at the end of play. England’s undefeated centurion viewed it differently insisting that, with the Wanderers’ pitch prone to unreliable bounce on the final day, an England win was still on the cards. In fact, with a 30 per cent chance of rain signalled by the forecasters, the draw was firm favourite.
The fifth day began badly for the visitors with Jones caught behind off Pollock in the sixth over of the day for 13: England 222-6. Trescothick, mindful of the need to husband the tail, batted carefully at first but then, with Giles as foil, he dispensed with the sword, brought out the bludgeon and proceeded to pulverise the South African attack with a controlled brutality that belied his ever-benign mien. It was heady stuff. When Giles fell for a quickfire 31 with the score at 272 and Matthew Hoggard was out two runs later, ‘Banger’ upped the pace still further and put on a further 58 with Harmison whose contribution was just three. Particularly unforgiving of Boje, who he hit for two sixes and three fours in the space of two overs, he was finally out, caught Boucher, bowled Ntini for 180 off 248 balls with 24 fours and four sixes.
It was a masterly innings. In a match that mattered, in the unpredictable conditions of the Highveld summer on a pitch which though fundamentally solid was never entirely straightforward, it was played out against an attack which held the threat of four bowlers – Ntini, Kallis, Pollock and a young Dale Steyn – who would all take more than 250 Test wickets. It was also chanceless. Indeed, save for an inside edged four from an Ntini delivery that lifted from a length early in his innings, it contained scarcely a false shot. ‘Fodder to the thoroughbred bowler’? Hardly.
Throughout the heart of two days of pulsating Test cricket, Trescothick played, as he later described it, as if batting in The Matrix: ‘I experienced that super slow-motion effect almost from the first ball I faced and…just felt the ball that had not yet been invented that could actually get me out.’
It was the pace of the innings as much as its size that allowed Michael Vaughan to declare on 332 at the fall of Trescothick’s wicket and leave South Africa to score 325 in little more than two sessions. From there, despite Smith coming in at number 8 still groggy from his concussion and battling his way to a brave unbeaten 67, an inspirational spell of bowling from Mathew Hoggard with a Test best spell of 7-61 off 18 overs (including Kallis, caught Trescothick first ball) carried England to an unlikely 77-run triumph.
In the afterglow of Hoggard’s heroics, Trescothick’s masterpiece was almost forgotten. No matter. For the man who Nasser Hussain, described as ‘almost too nice for the top job’, and who always put the team before self, the fact that Hoggard garnered the primary plaudits would have bothered Tressie not a jot.
Unsung or otherwise, however, it was the yeoman with the heart of willow who formed the platform for the victory that, after a rain-affected drawn fifth Test in which 130 overs were lost, proved to have launched his side, first to a series victory and from there perhaps to that unforgettable Ashes summer. As Geoff Boycott wrote at the time: ‘Marcus Trescothick played so well…It was his innings that gave Hoggard the opportunity of winning the match. He’ll find it difficult to play a better and more important innings in his career.’
Doesn’t move his feet? Who cares? Neither did Graeme Pollock. Trescothick would finish the series with 448 runs at 44.80. In April, he would be named as one of Wisden’s Five Cricketers of the Year. By the end of the summer he was an Ashes hero.
You have to be numerate to take an interest in cricket, thus I have been able to calculate that this is the twenty first occasion on which I have embarked on this article. My mother would say therefore that it has come of age, and I hope that perhaps it has.
To mark this significant anniversary I will begin with a slight departure from the norm although, as a keen collector of benefit material I probably should have done it years ago. There are eight long serving county cricketers who have been awarded benefits this year, and they are Chris Rushworth Durham), Graham Wagg (Glamorgan), Ian Cockbain (Gloucestershire), Joe Denly (Kent), Dawid Malan (Middlesex), Stuart Broad (Nottinghamshire), Jade Dernbach (Surrey) and Jack Shantry (Worcestershire).
Over the years many benefit committees have produced brochures, and those have become increasingly sophisticated over the years. They are not as frequent as they once were, partly because players are more mobile and not so many put in the long service at one county needed to earn benefits, and partly no doubt because the costs of producing these glossy magazines has become prohibitive. Nonetheless many are an important biographical record of their subject and for that reason alone are well worth collecting.
Of this year’s beneficiaries I can say with certainty that the committees of Messrs Denly, Broad and Dernbach have confirmed they are producing brochures, and those of Cockbain and Shantry that they are not. No response has been received to enquiries made of Rushworth and Wagg, which suggests they are not although Wagg’s twitter feed indicates advertising was at one stage being sought. The reply I received from Malan’s committee, whilst being very prompt, did not actually answer the question although I have since been told by a friend and Middlesex supporter that something is to be published very soon.
As to Shantry although there is no brochure there is something that is, probably, even better being a small book published with the title Shantry’s Match – Shantry, whose career was ended by injury two years ago, was a journeyman all-rounder for Worcester and played 92 First Class matches over nine summers. He made just two centuries, and only twice managed a ten wicket match haul. One of each in the same game against Surrey in 2014 led an improbable victory charge and the book consists of Paul Edwards’ account of that remarkable game, and a biographical essay by George Dobell.
Monty Panesar left the game at around the same time as Shantry, although for very different reasons. Another distinction to be drawn is that Monty is not yet ready to draw a line under his First Class career and his very recent autobiography, The Full Monty, is a fascinating read.
Robin Smith, published a mid career autobiography back in 1993 under the title Quest For Number One. A few years later he retired and, since then, life has not treated him as well as it might have. His just published autobiography, The Judge, explores what has happened to one of the bravest batsman of his time since he gave up the game.
Just a few years older than Smith is the former Somerset and England all-rounder Vic Marks. Now a respected writer and broadcaster Marks autobiography is entitled Original Spin: Misadventures in Cricket, and has just been released by Allen and Unwin.
Something I would love to be able to report is that Stephen Chalke has changed his mind about retiring Fairfield Books, particularly after the imprint’s three wonderful books so far this year. I regret I cannot do so, but can at least confirm that Stephen has agreed to help one more book into print, the memoirs of former Surrey, Gloucestershire and Sussex batsman Roger Knight. I wonder if the book will reveal how often Knight has been accused of being Nick Knight’s father, a misapprehension I laboured under for years, reinforced by both having an initial V, and the pair bearing what I still maintain is a more than superficial resemblance to each other.
Another of our favourite publishers are Pitch, and they have some interesting new titles in the pipeline. I mentioned Christopher Sandford’s forthcoming biography of John Murray at the beginning of the year, but before that a new book by Jonathan Rice is due, Stories Of Cricket’s Finest Painting. The painting concerned is of play at Canterbury in 1906 in a County Championship fixture between Kent and Lancashire, won by Kent, the eventual champions, by the crushing margin of an innings and 195 runs – earlier in the summer, in the reverse fixture, it had been the turn of the Red Rose to win easily, by ten wickets.
As for the stories the book consists of those will be of how the famous painting came to be commissioned, how the match unfolded and the stories of the lives of the players involved. A few of them, like Archie MacLaren and Colin Blythe, have had their lives written before but certainly the stories of Kent’s match winners, Kenneth Hutchings with the bat and paceman Arthur Fielder with the ball, will be interesting.
In a couple of weeks’ time Pitch publish the autobiography of Franklyn Stephenson, the fine West Indian all-rounder who, thanks to joining the rebel tours to South Africa in the 1980s, never enjoyed the Test career he was patently good enough for. Stephenson will also feature heavily in a book Pitch are publishing in 2020, The Unforgiven, the story of all those rebel tourists, the lives of a number of whom spiralled rapidly downwards after the tours.
There are two books due out on the subject of Alistair Cook. One is the obligatory former England captain end of career autobiography, simply titled Memoir and published by Michael Joseph. Does Cook have a ghost? I suspect he must have, although the identity of the writer concerned is not clear from anything I have seen although, nobody’s fool, I suppose the possibility that Cook has done the writing duties himself cannot be ruled out. Also due is The Alistair Cook Story from Ollie Brett, a name that I must confess to, at the moment at least, not knowing very much about.
Recent weeks saw the release of the fourth and, for the time being last, instalment of Stephen Hill’s magnum opus on Somerset players. Somerset Cricketers 1971-2000 is a wonderful book. Further on the Somerset theme Hill’s collaborator on volumes two and three of his series has recently produced a full biography of one of the more interesting men from the earliest days of county cricket in Somerset, even if he was not one of their better players. Too Fond of Winning concerns the life of Henry Stanley.
There has been a new book on Garry Sobers this year; Sir Garfield Sober: The Baylands’ Favourite Son by Professor Keith Sanford has been published by JW McKenzie. We have also been treated to a book published in Trinidad, albeit one about an Indian Test player. Love Without Boundaries concerns the great leg spinner Subash ‘Fergie’ Gupte, and is written by his daughter.
In Australia Max Bonnell has been busy with two recent publications already this year and another one just about to appear. Those already released are Ebley Street Boys, a double biography of Norman Calloway and Frank O’Keeffe, followed by A Boyhood Hero on the subject of Johnny Taylor. About to be released from Bonnell is another volume in Ken Piesse’s ‘Nostalgia’ series. The title of the book is Dainty, thus it is a biography of Bert Ironmonger.
There have been two new books on the subject of Donald Bradman this year, which makes me wonder when the last time a year passed without one was. Of the two one is an inexpensive self-published paperback written by Peter Kettle. I reviewed Rescuing Don Bradman from Splendid Isolation here, The second, and a nicely produced limited edition of fifty, is by James Merchant. As its title suggests The Business of Bradman concerns the various ways in which ‘The Don’ made a living outside the game.
Also from the pen of Peter Kettle comes a cricket themed play, A Plea For Qualitative Justice, which concerns the thorny old question of how best to rank cricketers and is not therefore totally dissimilar in subject matter to his Bradman book, but it is certainly very different in style and approach.
Elsewhere in Australia Bernard Whimpress is publishing a small booklet in a limited edition of fifty copies, Turnarounds. As the title suggest the booklet concerns matches between New South Wales and South Australia in 2000-01 and Victoria and New South Wales matches in 1926-27 in which there were remarkable ‘turnarounds’. A more substantial work is also due soon from Whimpress who has completed a biography of the great Australian all-rounder of Victorian times, George Giffen. Another great Australian all-rounder, Frank Tarrant, who would undoubtedly have enjoyed a long Test career had he not chosen to play as a professional for Middlesex, is the subject of a biography written by Mike Coward and to be published by our friends at the Cricket Publishing Company.
Ken Piesse and Mark Browning have written Bob’s Boys, the story of how Victoria won the Sheffield Shield in 1969/70. Again this one will appear in the ‘Nostalgia’ series and will be signed by a number of those who were involved.
Finally from Australia October will see a new book from, amongst other projects, the biographer of Jack Fingleton and ‘Chuck’ Fleetwood-Smith. Greg Growden has written Cricketers at War: Cricket Heroes Who also Fought for Australia in Battle. The subject matter is clear from the title, but the scope extends beyond the two World Wars to Vietnam and beyond.
From India we have seen a second edition of Vijay Lokapally’s 2016 biography of Virat Kohli, Driven, and a new book about Kohli which was reviewed by Mohit here. Also published in India is a biography of Sri Lankan Sanath Jayasuriya, by Chandresh Narayanan. A self-published biography of Molinder ‘Jimmy’ Amaranth has also appeared from Arup Saika. The title is Jimmy: The Phoenix of ’83. Also due in India is a biography of West Indies batsman Alvin Kallicharran. Less certain, but rumoured, are biographies of Abbas Ali Baig, Nari Contractor and Laxman Sivaramakrishnan.
Once again there are no tour books, well not in the old fashioned way. We do however have Standard Bearers, a collection of Gideon Haigh’s writing on Australia’s 2018/19 international cricket schedule.
There have been a couple of retrospective tour accounts however. With We Are The Invincibles Indian writer Anindya Dutta revisited the famous tour of 1948, and did a thoroughly good job of it. The second is more interesting, in the sense that it deals with two trips that have not previously been the subject of books. The West Indian trip to England of 1933 is one,and the Englishmen’s return trip of 1934/35 the other. The book is written by Richard Bentley, and its title is A War To The Knife.
Another tour book which looks to be a worthwhile investment is Prashant Kidambe’s Cricket Country, an account of a long forgotten visit to English shores in 1911 by a team from India, some twenty years before the Indians’ inaugural Test was played.
There are also two books due to appear in respect of the second tied Test, played out in Madras between India and Australia in 1986. One is Border’s Battlers by Michael Sexton and the other is from Ronald Cardwell and the Cricket Publishing Company. That one is titled The Tied Test in Madras and in addition to standard edition there is, for those of us who like that sort of thing, a multi signed and specially bound limited edition.
And finally, on this very day, a new limited edition booklet, Harry’s Mission, is being published by Red Rose Books. Quite how this has managed to jump Samuel Lunt and Ralph Whitehead in the queue is something I do not know, and I fear that the monograph I crave on the subject of the publisher’s father is receding far into the distance. But I am impressed by Martin Tebay’s enthusiasm for this one. The subject matter is certainly unexpected. The Harry in question was the manager of the Boston Red Stockings baseball team and in 1874 he brought his charges to England to promote the American game, with part of the programme involving cricketing contests. A review will follow soon.
Twice a year CW looks forward to those cricket books due in the months ahead. If any publisher or author reading this has a book we have missed please let us know and if you would like CW to review your books and/or announce your future plans at the beginning of January 2020 then please contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org, which email address can also be used by any prospective purchaser seeking further information.