An Historic TieMartin Chandler |
Author: Wolstenholme, Gerry
Publisher: Red Rose Books
Rating: 3.5 stars
In 1912, when Australia toured England for the first (and so far only) Triangular Tournament with South Africa the Board were in dispute with their leading players. As a result the party that arrived in England was an understrength one, lacking Victor Trumper, Clem Hill, Warwick Armstrong, Tibby Cotter, Vernon Ransford and Hanson Carter. As well as losing the only one of the three Tests against England that the weather allowed to reach a finish the tourists also lost to Nottinghamshire, Surrey, Lancashire and Hampshire.
It would be forty four years, and a ten wicket haul from Surrey’s Jim Laker, before another county downed an Australian touring and in truth there weren’t too many alarms along the way during that period. In 1930 however, the summer during the course of which Donald Bradman firmly stamped his authority on the game, Gloucestershire almost succeeded in spoiling that sequence, and in doing so recorded that rarest of results in First Class cricket, a tie.
By reason of that background alone there is no doubt that such a remarkable match warrants a long look back today, almost a century on. The Australians had just completed the Test series, and made some personnel changes, but their side was still a powerful one, with Bradman leading the batting and Clarrie Grimmett the bowling.
The match itself ebbed and flowed as almost all matches that end as ties do. The Australians won the toss and invited the county to bat and at the end of the first day, with the home side all out for 72, it appeared that the game would be a routine victory for the Australians. The visitors were doubtless a little disappointed with their response, spun out by spin twins Tom Goddard and Charlie Parker, but a first innings lead of 85 still left them well on top.
There was a single difference between the two Gloucestershire innings, that being a major contribution from Walter Hammond. He had made the second highest score, 17, in the first innings disappointment, but his 89 in the second meant that the Australians victory target was as many as 118. When Archie Jackson and Stan McCabe opened up with 59 that looked straightforward enough, but once that pair were parted Goddard and Parker, who bowled throughout, weaved their magic and got their side to the brink of victory, without being quite able to get themselves over the line.
So Gerry Wolstenholme has a dramatic match to tell the story of, and plenty of contemporary reports to help him with that task. The result is an excellent account which succeeds in conveying the sense of anticipation that must have ebbed and flowed within the many spectators in the ground over the three days.
As with all Red Rose Books publications this one appears in a limited edition, on this occasion of 72 copies. There are 22 hardbacks at £40 each, but all of those copies that remain in the UK have been sold, so all that is available now are the 50 soft backs, available from the publisher or, in Australia, from Roger Page who might, I suppose, possibly have a hardback or two that are not already spoken for.