For Those Who Wait

Published: 2011
Pages: 231
Author: Nicholls, Barry
Publisher: Centrebar Publishing
Rating: 4 stars

For Those Who Wait

For Those Who Wait is the biography of former Australian Test wicket-keeper and former ICC referee Barry Jarman.

The Author Barry Nicholls, who won praise for his first cricket book Cricket Dreaming, played in an under 16s team coached by Jarman. The association between author and subject is interesting. On the one side you imagine Jarman would be more comfortable confiding in Nicholls, which appears to be the case. On the other side; the author’s obvious hero worship of his subject means there is little criticism of Jarman.

One area in which he is critical is Jarman’s one Test as Australian captain. Nicholls believes Jarman was too defensive and settled for a draw far too early in the match. Nicholls was not the only one unhappy with Jarman’s tactics. Ian Chappell was disgusted; “if that’s Test cricket you can stick in up your arse,” he growled when he returned to the dressing room at the completion of the match.

Jarman believes his tactics were justified with Australia losing the next – last – Test in dramatic fashion, they still managed to retain the Ashes one Test each.

When discussing that one Test as captain, Nicholls writes Jarman was the second wicket-keeper to achieve this distinction, with Gilchrist in 2000-01 being the third. It is a romantic notion, as with Blackham the Prince of wicket-keepers being the first in the 1890s, it equates to one keeper captaining Australia per century. Unfortunately most historians keep forgetting Billy Murdoch captained and kept for Australia in the second Test of 1881-82.

A recurring theme of the book is the great rivalry between Jarman and Wally Grout for the Australian keeping spot. For ten years Jarman played second fiddle and like Stuart McGill who waited in the wings for Shane Warne, when his chance finally came he was quickly superseded playing only 19 Tests. And, like McGill – despite Nicholls arguments it is clear that most of their contemporaries considered Grout the better wicket-keeper.

It can be hard to write an interesting book about a player who is predominantly a keeper; they rarely win a match by their own deeds. Nicholls is helped by the interesting off field achievements of his subject but mostly his fine writing style and his ability to only include the best anecdotes make this a first class cricketing biography.

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