An Unexpected Call-Up

Published: 2022
Pages: 11
Author: Cardwell, Ronald
Publisher: The Cricket Press Pty Ltd
Rating: 4 stars

As a teenager I greatly enjoyed watching the 1973 New Zealanders. Little was expected of them at the start of their tour, and even less when they were shout out for 97 in the first innings of the first Test. In those circumstances it was obvious they weren’t going to get 479 in the fourth innings, and they duly didn’t, but boy did they come close, looking for some time as if they would succeed, and losing in the end by just 38 runs. Skipper Bevan Congdon instantly became one of my heroes after his 176, that status reinforced when he added 175 in the drawn second Test.

Five years later the New Zealanders were back, but this time were a huge disappointment, despite one of the handful of survivors from the 1973 side, pace bowler Richard Hadlee, having transformed from a not very impressive and very raw young bowler into the real thing. This time it was the batting that let the side down. For Congdon it was a tour too many, and no one else stepped up to the plate.

One who we had heard a bit about was ‘keeper Jock Edwards.A big burly man with something of a reputation for being a hard hitting batsman. Sadly for Edwards he kept poorly in the first two Tests, and as he failed with the bat too he lost his place for the third Test.

And that gave New Zealand a problem, because they didn’t really have a reserve ‘keeper. There was another veteran of 1973, John Parker, described as an occasional wicketkeeper but who had disappointed with the bat in 1973 and was doing so again in 1978. The only other option was the young batsman Bruce Edgar, another ‘occasional’ wicketkeeper, and in his case so occasional that when selected he didn’t even own a pair of gauntlets.

But at least Edgar had shown some spirit with the bat, so he got the job behind the stumps as well. He couldn’t stop New Zealand subsiding to 67 all out in their second innings, and losing for a third time, but he did put on another stubborn display with the bat in the first innings, and behind the stumps conceded just seven byes, and made three catches, so it was a creditable performance from him.

And the story of this excellent little monograph from Ronald Cardwell is the story of how Edgar came to be selected to keep in that match. With contributions from Edgar himself, New Zealand skipper Mark Burgess and various others who were involved the story is certainly the authentic one and is as well written as everything else to have come from Ronald Cardwell’s pen over the years.

There are five illustrations in the monograph which, as is always the case from this publisher,is most attractively put together. Published in a limited edition of 113, all signed by author and subject, copies are available from Roger Page (rpcricketbooks@iprimus.com.au) in Australia, and JW McKenzie in the UK

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