Heroes of the HourArchie Mac |
Author: Piesse, Ken
Rating: 4 stars
It’s every Australian boy’s dream to play Test cricket. It’s every Australian Test cricketers’ dream to define a match. In Heroes of the Hour, author Ken Piesse selects 57 great Aussie Test performances from 1877 to the present.
This is the great thing about sport. You don’t have to be an all time great to produce an all time great performance. So we have lesser lights such as Steve O’Keefe alongside legends of the calibre of Sir Donald Bradman. There are also the shooting stars that dominated for a moment and were rarely heard of again; Archie Jackson and Bob Massie for example.
The one criterion Piesse seems to have settled on is that no player can feature more than once. As you peruse the selection you can quickly surmise which performance most players were selected for. Kim Hughes had to be chosen for his great 100 against the Windies on an uneven MCG Boxing Day pitch. Dean Jones’ moment was always going to be his double ton in enervating Chennai heat that saw him, post match, taken to hospital and placed on a drip.
Some of the others are not so obvious. Narrowing Bradman down to one performance was never going to be easy. In the end Piesse went for the innings Bradman always described as his best – the faultless 200 at Lord’s in 1930. It must have caused Mr Piesse a few anxious moments to choose the Lord’s innings over Bradman’s gallant ton against the rage of Bodyline, not to mention 1936/37. While Bradman’s Bodyline ton doesn’t make the cut, at least Martin Chandler will be chuffed that Stan McCabe’s masterful Bodyline century is included.
On most of the players included I was able to pick the featured match first or at the very least second guess. The one exception was that true all rounder Keith Miller. I had seven guesses and still had it wrong. The one chosen was a bowling performance when the mercurial Miller routed the cream of England batsmen claiming 3-5 in his opening spell. In the end this was my personal favourite description in Heroes of the Hour, but there was plenty of competition.
The heroes chosen are set out in alphabetical order, which works well. As you jump from one era to another; for example Spofforth in 1882 and then onto Starc in 2016. This format will make it easier for those who do not know their cricket history. It can be a hard slog to read descriptions of players you have never heard of for 200 pages before entering the eras you are familiar with. So full marks to Piesse for choosing to set out the book in this way.
In fact all other cricket book publishers should study how Heroes of the Hour is designed. Full index; clear notes on sources; clear and concise text; copious illustrations including a colour section; and finally a well set out contents pages. It makes it a pleasure to both read and review.
Heroes of the Hour is one of those books that you can enjoy dipping into frequently. Each self contained performance transporting you back to a stellar Aussie legend at the peak of their powers. It should be in the Christmas stocking of all cricket fans and is available from Ken Piesse at www.cricketbooks.com.au