Delayed In Transit

Published: 2019
Pages: 28
Author: Gibbons, Roger
Publisher: GCCC Heritage Trust
Rating: 3 stars

Last week and this we have reviewed four booklets that have just been published by the Gloucestershire County Cricket Club Heritage Trust. Three, including this one, are brand new and In Memoriam a reprint of a title previously issued in 2015.

The County Championship and Test cricket were closed down for the duration of the Second World War. Despite that there was still a demand for good cricket and, unlike during the Great War, attitudes towards recreational sport were nothing like so negative.

For two years, in 1944 and 1945, the West of England XI performed regularly. The standard was often high, and many pre war county cricketers turned out and a number of Test players including the likes of Walter Hammond and Bob Wyatt.

The doings of the side have not been ignored by cricket literature, a slim 40 page pamphlet written by KG Bird having appeared in 1945, dealing with the previous season. That source is duly acknowledged by Gibbons both on the cover of Delayed In Transit and at various points in the narrative.

I do not own, nor have I seen, a copy of Bird’s work but I suspect that it is a straightforward collection of reports, scores and statistics. I cannot imagine that it approaches its subject in anything like the same way that Gibbons does. He begins his story in an army hospital in 1940 where a former triallist for the county side, George Elliott, was in plaster from his chest up after breaking his neck at Dieppe. It was there that Elliot had his vision for a West of England XI and the booklet, profusely illustrated by contemporary photographs and pieces of memorabilia, recounts the development of the side and contains many anecdotes from the 39 matches that were played over the two years of its existence.

The West of England XI and various other similar sides played a valuable role in keeping up the morale of the nation during the Second World War, as well as securing a vital stream of income for the variety of charitable causes that it supported. The engaging manner in which Gibbons tells its story makes this, as with each of the publications he has produced for the Gloucester museum, a thoroughly worthwhile exercise. As with its stablemates it is thoroughly recommended.

Anyone interested in buying this and any of the other booklets can contact the author via email at gibbonsroger044@gmail.com. The price is, including UK postage and packing, a very reasonable £5 or, for multiple purchases, £12 for any three or £15 for all four booklets. An additional incentive to would be purchasers is that, naturally, all proceeds go to help the Gloucestershire museum, a very worthy cause indeed. An alternative route to purchase for those in the southern hemisphere is via Roger Page.

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