Favourite Cricket Yarns

Published: 2014
Pages: 326
Author: Piesse, Ken
Publisher: The Five Mile Press
Rating: 4 stars

Favourite Cricket Yarns

Every year, just before Christmas, we try and review a book that best fits the stocking filler for the cricket fan. Ideally the book should fill at least three of the following criteria: entertaining, succinctly written, sound production values, user friendly format, index and bibliography.

Favourite Cricket Yarns, ticks all six of the boxes, which is not surprising given the author. This is the 48th book written, published or edited by Ken Piesse and he certainly knows how to produce a quality product.

Piesse is himself involved in a number of the stories featured in the book, with my personal favourite being his trip to the Centenary Test to have his first edition Percy Fenders signed by the chuffed and near blind author. Just to make these rare books even more valuable, Piesse had procured them from former Bodyline umpire George Hele, who had also signed the Fender first editions.

Fender’s books are well written but due to their era they are not a patch on the production of Ken Piesse’s latest, with four colour printing, cartoons and a layout that is a pleasure to navigate.

The book is set out in a number of sections and predominately focuses on the first class game although there are also a few amusing anecdotes from grade cricket. This is the heart of the book with the stories and anecdotes lovingly told. Piesse’s experience and contacts makes for some new twists on even the most famous of stories.

Some of the pieces in the book are quite inspiring such as veteran Chris Rogers’ Test recall after he had been told he was no longer a required player for Victoria. After reading about Rogers you may find yourself cheering on the little opener with just a little more personal feeling.

The Rogers article is just one of the many interesting insights offered in this misleading little book that most would expect was written mainly for entertainment value. For instance Piesse explains the cricket origins of some of the characters from the one great Australian comic strip Ginger Meggs. Another interesting fact was that Charlie Chaplin’s boyhood hero was that fine Surrey and England batsman Tom Hayward.

While the majority of the book will be unfamiliar to even the well read cricket book lover there are still a couple of favourites that make the cut. Rod Marsh’s quip to John Inverarity “jeez, I thought this bloke was supposed to be able to play a bit”, after Barry Richards played and missed at his first ball on a bouncy WACA pitch, was answered by Inveratity at the end of the day when Richards was 325 not out – “yep, he can play a bit.”

The Barry Richards story is just one of the many classic anecdotes to be found in Favourite Cricket Yarns, an ideal book for the Christmas stocking of every cricket lover.

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