A Pictorial History of Australian Test Cricket

Published: 2016
Pages: 256
Author: Piesse, Ken
Publisher: Echo
Rating: 4.5 stars

Pictorial histories can be tough. Balancing the ration of words to pictures is never easy and also the cost can limit the amount of colour reproductions. Another issue is the quality of the paper, with some of the older pics in particular not reproducing clearly unless printed on glossy stock.

In his latest book, Ken Piesse has hit the perfect formula: the right amount of words sprinkled amongst some outstanding pictures and all printed on quality stock. The amount of four colour printing is also copious and makes this one of the best Australian cricket pictorials yet produced.

The book is split into decades, starting with the debut of Test cricket in the 1870s. At the end of each decade, or part thereof, we are provided with a statistical list of the most successful players in Australia for the decade. Only Bradman and Lillee feature twice. Bradman dominates the batsmen list in the 30s and 40s and Lillee the bowling for the 70s and 80s.

Ken Piesse has chosen some lovely photos. Classics such as the Victor Trumper drive and the modern iconic Shane Warne one stump dance are there but also some photos that even the cricket connoisseur will be unfamiliar with. There is one that shows a copy of the ledger kept by the 1896 tourist, Harry Donnan. The exact amount players received from this tour has simply been conjecture but we now know, thanks to a reproduction of the ledger in this book, that the tourists pocketed the princely sum, for the time, of just over £686. A pic of a topless Richie Benaud and Arthur Morris playing squash is another which will be new to most.

The writing is of a high quality, which you always expect from Piesse. The story of Test cricket is lovingly told with all the best anecdotes included and a couple of new ones thrown in which was a welcome surprise. Piesse knew and interviewed many of the greats and includes some titbits from some of the best. His discussions with Keith Miller are especially revealing with no love lost between Miller and Don Bradman, or Miller and Ian Johnson for that matter.

Piesse tells us that Miller and his captain Johnson almost came to blows on a tour of the West Indies. There are other examples of actual punches thrown and a pic is included of Rodney Hogg taking a swipe at his captain Kim Hughes, also during a tour of the West Indies. The one punch that did connect was that of Australian captain Clem Hill when he landed one on a fellow selector during the acrimonious Ashes series of 1911-12. Hill, not unsurprisingly, resigned as selector although not as captain.

This is arguably the best book of its type an Australian cricket writer has yet produced and should be included in every cricket book library. There is four colour printing on almost every page and the design and production values are first class. Add in an entertaining, clear and concise narrative throughout and A Pictorial History of Australian Test Cricket, will be cherished by all cricket lovers.   It is available at all major book shops and Ken Piesse can provide signed copies if purchased through www.cricketbooks.com.au

Leave a comment

Comments are moderated, and will not appear until they have been approved

More articles by Archie Mac