Martin Chandler |
This time around I have decided to start this feature in India, where the legend that is Sachin Tendulkar recently celebrated his half century. Despite retiring all but a decade ago I suspect he probably remains the most popular cricketer on the planet, and I was slightly surprised not to see his fiftieth birthday marked by more books than it was. As it is amongst a few ebooks all I can spot is Gulu Ezekiel’s revised and updated biography.
In the past, as well as Tendulkar, modern icons MS Dhoni and Sourav Ganguly have also been subjects of books by Gulu. I have long nagged him to write a biography of a cricketer from India’s past and am delighted to be able to say that one is now in the offing and well advanced. The subject is not the one I have usually sought to persuade him to concentrate on, Dattu Phadkar, but hopefully a successful project on the man I am not yet allowed to name will persuade him Phadkar should be next. Inverting that particular situation I can also advise that a biography of Abbas Ali Baig is being written, but this time whilst I can confirm the subject I am unable to divulge the name of the author.
Two other Indian biographies have also recently appeared. The first is Beyond Cricket: A Life in Many Worlds by Venkatram Ramnarayan and its subject is CD Gopinath. That one I have had the pleasure of reading, but I am still waiting for the other to arrive. I have no doubt however that Guts Amidst Bloodbath; The Aunshuman Gaekwad Narrative by Aditya Bhutan will be worth reading. Gaekwad’s batting record in his 40 Tests, less than 2,000 runs at a tick over 30 is relatively modest, but as the title of the book suggests it is his courage for which he is noted.
I should also mention one other Indian title that I missed last time round, but thankfully managed to get a copy of pretty sharply once I became aware of it. Bharat Sundaresan’s Miracle Makers is a book that, perhaps, marks a mini-renaissance for the tour book genre? I certainly hope so.
James Merchant from Australia has been busy this year. Having privately published The Cricket World of Clarrie Grimmett in February he has been working on a similar book on the subject of Arthur Mailey, a name revered amongst those of us with a penchant for cricketing caricatures. Before that however James will be publishing an substantial book on the subject of cricket ceramics. Having been able to cast my eye over an early version of this whilst I can confirm it is indeed devoted solely to that particular area of cricketana collecting, it is nonetheless a wide ranging and superbly illustrated treatise on its subject and will be of interest to anyone with an interest in the acquisition of the game’s memorabilia, whether or not ceramics are one of their areas of interest.
And what of The Cricket Publishing Company and its associated imprints? We have just seen Mike Whitney’s story appear as a Cricketer in Print and Between Wickets 9. I should also mention a history of the Sydney Cricket Club, Looking Back and Reaching Forward, that was released last year but I have not previously mentioned. Regrettably the full enquiry I commissioned as to why I was not told about that one has revealed, perhaps unsurprisingly, that I was informed but that it had then slipped my mind.
Moving forward I am told to expect another half dozen titles this year but what will they be? A biography of New Zealander John Sparling will certainly be one, and it seems highly likely that another New Zealander, ‘Sonny’ Moroney, who was killed in action in World War Two, will be the next subject of a Cricketers in Print monograph. But what will come after that? I would be very surprised if we didn’t get some sort of book on Brian Booth, and there are many other possibilities. There are biographies of Paul Sheahan, Jim Burke, Harry Donnan and Jack D’Arcy still in the mix, an account of the 1972/73 Australian series in the Caribbean as well as books about diaries, letters, pictures and autographs – we will just have to wait and see!
Elsewhere in Australia I understand that two books by Rick Smith are all but ready, those being an account of the South African tour of Australia 1910/11, as well as a collection of profiles entitled More to a Life Than Cricket. A couple of the men featured in that latter book did play Test cricket, but success at the game is not a pre-requisite for inclusion, whereas an interesting life is. I am told, by one of those who has been proof reading the book, that it is a fascinating one.
Peter Schofield, who was one of the co-authors of the Bradman and Trumper extravaganzas that we rated so highly, has been involved, this time with Ric Sissons, in the preparation of another luxury item. This one is a book on the Australian tour to New Zealand of 1913/14. It was not, of course, a Test tour but the Australian party was still a strong one and featured the likes of Monty Noble, Warwick Armstrong and Arthur Mailey, not to mention the legendary Trumper, whose final First Class appearance came in the closing fixture of the trip.
Elsewhere in Australia biographical works in respect of Tom McKibbin, Clem Hill and Percy McDonnell might emerge in the not too distant future, and I hope we might also see a book on the two tours of Australia by English teams that took place in 1887/88, one led by George Vernon, and the other by the Notts professional Arthur Shrewsbury, although Shrewsbury did not lead his side on the field. The two teams came together mid tour for a single Test match, won comfortably by England. Another book we will definitely be seeing in a few weeks’ time is Ken Piesse’s latest book, The Bull, an unauthorised biography of the Australian batsman most England supporters love to hate, David Warner.
And so back home to Blighty and a tour around our favourite publishers. I will start with the ACS who currently have two books planned for August and one for November, although I am told there is a possibility of one or two other titles emerging in November. As far as the three are concerned the first is written by the distinguished Derbyshire historian and writer John Shawcroft. Best of Enemies traces the sporting rivalry between Derbyshire and Nottinghamshire from the nineteenth century to the present day, mainly through the summer exploits of the counties’ cricket teams and the winter exploits of Derby County and Nottingham Forest. The ups and downs of the contests are, I am told, brought to life by descriptions of the colourful personalities who have played for them.
A much more statistical work is the eleventh book in the ACS Hard to Get Scores series, one which provides full scorecards of First Class matches which have been difficult or impossible to obtain in print. First-Class Matches : Pakistan 2004/5 – 2006/7, edited by John Bryant, includes a brief narrative introducing each season, the scores themselves as well as full league tables for the various competitions.
And the November release is the third book to arrive in the Cricket Tours series. The task of following Keith Walmsley and Jeremy Lonsdale falls to Stephen Musk, and his contribution is entitled Outside the Tent – Private Australian Tours. The most notable of those will doubtless be Jack Ryder’s 1935/36 team in Ceylon and India which included the 49-year-old Charlie Macartney. Megan Ponsford recently produced a compelling book on that trip, but I anticipate also reading about trips to New Zealand and I feel sure there must be other destinations in south Asia and Oceania.
Pitch have released some excellent books this year, most of which I knew about in January, but there are a couple more that have been added to their schedule for the rest of this year, and one for next year, which is well worth a mention now. The first, out any day, is The Last Corinthian. This is a biography of former England captain MJK Smith. The author is Mike Thompson and the book is quite a departure from his previous cricket book, the 2017 published biography of Lord Beauclerk.
An unexpected title from Pitch is Cotton, Cricket and Football: Billy Cook, the Life of a Lancashire League Legend. The author is Paul Watts, Cook’s great grandson who was brought up on tales of the exploits of his forebear. Cook did play a few times for Lancashire during the latter part of the Golden Age but he was a giant in the Lancashire League, and played professional football for Oldham Athletic in the winter.
And then January, hopefully, will see the publication of Jonathan Campion’s Getting Out: The Ukrainian Cricket Team’s Last Stand on the Front Line of War. From the blurb, for more of which come back at the end of December, it sounds like a remarkable book. In common, I have no doubt with all who are reading this, my greatest wish is that by the time the book is published Ukrainians will be concentrating on rebuilding their shattered country, but hopefully they will also find time to pick up the threads of this story.
By the end of July we can expect, from Cricketmash, Prospero, Caliban and Other Glorious Uncertainties by John Agard, a multi award winning poet from Guyana. Publication is to take place by the end of July. Since 2002 Agard’s poems have been part of the GCSE curriculum and I am told this collection of cricket poetry is exquisite, mischievous and full of metaphors and double-meanings. Arun Sengupta has written an introduction and a commentary and the foreword comes from David Woodhouse, author of the magnificent Who Only Cricket Know.
Book dealer Christopher Saunders has recently put for sale two collections of ancient cricket literature, all of which date back beyond 1800. One is a collection of dictionaries, and the other of newspapers and other books. Whether or not both or either have been sold I know not, but a detailed catalogue and commentary for each is available via the website.
Red Rose Books have so far released five booklets this year, two by Stephen Musk, two by Martin Tebay and one by Roy Cavanagh, four of which we have reviewed. The Musk titles are Lionel Robinson and the Australian Imperial Forces and A Giant-Killing at Lakenham, the Tebays The Utmost Sangfroid and Mold’s Marvellous Feat, and Roy Cavanagh’s is The Match That Started A Cricket Revolution.
Moving forward I can report that Red Rose will shortly be publishing a monograph by Cavanagh on the subject of Frank Hayes, and one by Martin Tebay on the subject of JT Tyldesley’s one man resistance for Lancashire to the power of the 1899 Australians at Old Trafford. There may be others, and indeed one likely release from Australian Pat Rodgers on the subject of Arthur McBeath, an Australian pace bowler who, briefly, enjoyed a good deal of success for New South Wales in the first five years of the twentieth century.
David Battersby has two projects due to come to fruition later this year, one bulky enough to be described as a book, the other a monograph. The book is Majid Khan – The Glamorgan Years. To Welsh cricketers of a certain age Majid means every bit as much as Farokh Engineer and Clive Lloyd do to Lancastrians of similar vintage. The book is to be limited to 156 copies, representing Majid’s score in the championship winning game against Worcestershire at Sophia Gardens in 1969. As well as the great man’s cricket for Glamorgan the book also covers a few other aspects of his life during his time at Glamorgan, and there is a contribution from Najum Latif (curator of Lahore Gymkhana Museum) who has written a mini-chapter about Majid’s Burki ancestry. A limited edition card signed by Majid will be available with the first fifty copies.
The monograph also promises to be a worthwhile purchase. Its title is The Fearsome Farooq Hamid. Majid, Zaheer Abbas and Charlie Griffith have all expressed the view that Farooq was the fastest bowler they ever saw. Why then have you never heard of him? The answer to that one is that he only played a single Test, back in 1964/65 against Australia. Of particular interest will be the reasons why we never saw Farooq again, which David has already given me a flavour of. Once more the first fifty copies will have a signed card, which of course tells us something more of value, that much of the material in the monograph will have come from the man himself.
Being a Lancastrian, I am also always keen to know what Max Books are up to, and earlier this year they were the driving force behind a comprehensive bibliography of the work of Sir Neville Cardus. They have also assisted into print a booklet, reviewed today, put together by the Lancashire Cricket Heritage team, and titled Ashes Test Matches at Emirates Old Trafford.
As for Max themselves their two projects for the rest of the year are in rather less serious vain. The first is Cricket Hotch Potch, a collection of sketches and caricatures by Bob Bond, in the main featuring Lancashire cricket in the latter years of the twentieth century. On a not entirely dissimilar subject that redoubtable social and cricketing historian, the now nonagenarian Eric Midwinter, has written Cricket in Boys’ Comics and Boys’ Stories, which the publisher describes as a sequel to Lords of Mischief.
Before leaving Max Books I should add that those who, like me, have been eagerly awaiting a biography of Peter Eckersley, Lancashire captain between 1929 and 1935, should not yet give up hope, although I am not aware of a definite release date.
Up in Scotland Richard Miller’s Scottish Cricket Memories series reaches number 20 with History of Cricket in Perth 1812 to 1894 by William Sievwright. That will be followed by The Cricketing Reminiscences of R W Sievwright (1930), a Scottish slow-left-arm bowler from Arbroath, a short History of Arbroath Cricket Club (1956), History of Dunfermline Cricket Club (1900) and, possibly, The Story of a Cricket Photograph from 1870 (of an Edinburgh Club team containing an early image of Andrew Greenwood, Yorkshire and England).
Fairfield Books have produced two excellent titles so far this year, Scott Oliver’s Sticky Dogs and Stardust and David Tossell’s One Day at a Time. I am aware of three forthcoming titles from them. One is Tossell’s look back at the 1974/75 Ashes series, Blood on the Tracks, but I don’t think that is due until next year, so I will wait until January before waxing lyrical about that one. Of the other two one I have mentioned several times before, although not in the context of the book being published by Fairfield. Hopefully therefore Vaneisa Baksh’s long awaited biography of Frank Worrell, Son of Grace will appear as scheduled in the Autumn. The other is a welcome return from the imprint’s former owner, Stephen Chalke.The title, Footprints – David Foot’s Lifetime of Writing tells you all you need to know. The book is part biography part anthology.
A book due to appear in November, and as this feature appears I do find myself wondering how much of it remains to be written, is Bazball: The inside story of a Test Cricket Revolution by Nick Hoult and Wisden editor Laurence Booth. One thing that is certain is that it could not have a more authoritative pair of writers.
The Bazball book is to be published by Bloomsbury, who have just released another cricket book, White Hot: The Inside Story of England Cricket’s Double World Champions by Matt Roller and Tim Wigmore. The publisher’s blurb describes that as the inside story of how England became the first men’s team to hold both of cricket’s World Cups simultaneously, from the players and key people involved, and the book is endorsed by Nasser Hussain.
On the subject of major publishers Allen & Unwin have an interesting looking autobiography due to appear in a few days time, Legacy by Nick Compton, which brings to mind a book I have no reason to believe is being written, but really should be, an autobiography from Richard Hutton.
There are three other books that have just been released, one of which I have seen, Steven Smith’s John Barton King: Cricket’s First and Greatest Swing Bowler. Of the two that have not crossed my threshold one is Middlesex CCC – The Championship Years by Jon Batham and Ben Kosky from DB Publishing, a look at each of the 13 Middlesex successes (eleven alone and two shared). The other is the self-published Ashes to Ashes: Through the night with the England cricket team 2021-2023 by Stephen Blackford.
And almost finally I will mention three books that I have reviewed this year but which I wasn’t aware of when I penned my feature in January. Two from the UK are Derek Barnard’s biography of Alan Dixon and Andy Bee’s study of the legendary pairing of Jack Hobbs and Herbert Sutcliffe, and from Australia Ross McMullin’s Life So Full Of Promise, which seems like an apposite point at which to make the comment that if, as I inevitably will have done, I have missed anything which any author or publisher would like me to publicise please get in touch and I will be more than happy to add your book.
And definitely finally, mention of a few books that I know are being written, and indeed must be well on the way to completion, although when they might appear I know not. They are biographies of Bill Bowes, Clive Rice, Fred Bakewell and Bill Edrich. Another is a long lost autobiography of the old Surrey stumper Ted Pooley, and there are accounts of the South Africans 1907 tour of England and the first Ashes contest of the video age, those of 1972. I even know the title of another, Over and Out, a mainly anecdotal book on the subject of the game in Hull and the East Riding of Yorkshire.
#Books #Overview #July