Australia 55

Published: 1955
Pages: 271
Author: Ross, Alan
Publisher: Michael Joseph
Rating: 4 stars

Australia 55
Australia 55

Cricket has been adorned by some fine chroniclers. From former players to dedicated historians the game has been well served by these cricket tragic’s tragics. Still while not denying their contribution to cricket lore, every now and then one of these dedicated recorders has something extra.

The extra is cricket art; as penned by – Fry, Horan, Cardus, Robertson-Glasgow*. After reading Australia 55, there is no doubt that Alan Ross deserves to be added to that impressive list. It is a bit of a cop out when reviewing a book of great prose to simply quote slabs of text. So here is just one example.

?May, when he hits the ball, cracks it; the air is split with the crispness of the impact. He plays forward defensively, not with the tolerance of Cowdrey, but with barely concealed impatience, as if only due necessity had forced him, reluctantly, and not for long, into such wearisome subservience. May is a player of the Renaissance, lean, hungry, adventurous. Cowdrey is a Georgian, discreet, handsome, and of substance? .

Alan Ross was 32 in the summer of 1955 and was sent to Australia to cover the Ashes for The Observer newspaper. The copy he sent back to the newspaper on the Tests are included the book and are some of the best coverage of ?live? cricket written. The rest of the book in its simplest terms is a travel book. Too much padding in a cricket tour book can be boring, luckily with Ross? eye for the interesting and ability to provide descriptive commentary this becomes as engaging as the description of the cricket.

Ross takes us around Australia and comments on subjects such as:
? Aussie Rules Football ? which he wasn?t impressed with.
? Aboriginal art and culture ? he was a little naive with his comments around the benefit of Aboriginal reserves.
? Australian cricket crowds ? ?If repetition is any component of wit, Australian crowds are vastly funny? .
? Ten o?clock trading referendum (Australian pubs in NSW, shut at six until 1954) ? ?naturally, every intelligent Australian wants the extension? .

Ross even manages to include a book review of Kangaroo by D.H. Lawrence, which is about the most valued review of this classic book yet written.

The cricket was the main reason for Ross? trip and he was privileged to see one of the great comebacks in Ashes Test history. England, after losing the first Test by an innings, simply blew Australia away by means of a typhoon and retained the Ashes.

Frank ?Typhoon? Tyson, had the series of his life practically winning two Tests against the odds on flat pitches, with the Australian team chasing small targets both times. Ross predicted, before the start of the tour, that Tyson would be one of the support bowlers, for the likes of Alec Bedser. In the end Bedser played in only the first Test.

So if you enjoy your cricket writing to be more than just workmanlike and factual then you will thoroughly enjoy the writing of Ross. Australia 55 is not just the record of a cricket tour. It?s cricket art.

*No extant cricket writers included.

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