Extra Cover

Published: 2020
Pages: 36
Author: Collis, Anthony (Editor)
Publisher: Stourbridge and District Cricket Society
Rating: 3 stars

This is, for once, in the nature of a double review as there are two copies of this title in existence. The first appeared in 2018 and describes itself as the first issue of what it is hoped will become an annual publication. In fact it didn’t appear in 2019, but has reappeared this year, once again named Extra Cover and described as the second issue, but this time styled as The 2020 Journal of the Stourbridge and District Cricket Society.

Despite those early changes the booklet is essentially unchanged in nature. The format is the same, both copies having 36 pages and containing a selection of essays by, in the main, members and friends of the society. Both copies are very nicely edited by the industrious secretary of the Society, Anthony Collis, and contain an introduction by its Chairman, Mike Tomkins.

Not unnaturally the essays within Extra Cover have a bias towards that area of the West Midlands that, as a result of the build up of soot in the days when heavy industry was the main source of its wealth, has come to be known as the Black Country. That is not to say that the content is of purely local appeal, as some writers tackle other more wide-ranging topics.

So what did volume one contain? From the pen of the great John Arlott there is a profile of Roger Kimpton, an Australian who played briefly for Worcestershire in the 1930s including a stellar run in 1936. Other essays include a short piece on the subject of Eric Hollies and rather longer ones on the history of a local club, Penn, and a well known championship match played between Kent and Worcestershire in 1960 that was completed in a single day. Most enjoyable of all is as good an essay as I have ever read on the subject of sledging from the one time Hampshire pro Andy Murtagh, who went on to a career in teaching before, in retirement, turning his skills to the writing of cricketing biographies*.

And volume two? There is no Arlott this time and indeed the editor apart the only familiar name amongst the cast of writers is the political journalist Simon Heffer. I can’t say that I have too much truck with Heffer’s views generally, but he is a decent writer with a fine book on county cricket in his oeuvre, and it is an account from that book of a match between Worcestershire and local rivals Warwickshire in 1911 that features here.

Elsewhere there is brief essay on the fascinating man whose photograph appears on the cover, AH ‘Fred’ Bakewell. I enjoyed a ’Where are they now’ look at the Bahamian Ivan Johnson who had four years at New Road in the early 1970s, and an account of an evening’s entertainment of the speaking variety from Kevin Pietersen. In amongst the local history there is also the story of one members trekking holiday in Nepal and India in 1986 which took in the Wills Trophy final between Delhi and, as it still was in those days, Bombay.

As with the other Collis inspired publication I have reviewed this week I know that copies of both editions of Extra Cover are in short supply. Once again any that do remain can be obtained via the Society’s website here

*To date Murtagh has published books about George Chesterton, Tom Graveney, Barry Richards, John Holder and Colin Cowdrey. Due later this year is a life of Tony Greig


Why no review of Cricketers at war . Excellent book written by Greg Growden
Has already been review in the Cricketer. Published ABC Books late 2019.
This is Growfen’s fourth cricket book and in my opinion his best , not forgetting Chuck Fleetwood -Smith biog.

Comment by KEN WOOLFE | 7:35am GMT 13 March 2020

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