Innings Complete Volume 18Martin Chandler |
Author: Paine, Philip
Publisher: Mischief Makers
Rating: 3 stars
It was back in the last century, just, that lifelong cricket enthusiast Philip Paine produced the first volume of Innings Complete. Thirteen years later Volume 18 has recently dropped through my door and it seems from the accompanying letter that the well of material at the author’s disposal will keep him going for a couple more volumes at least.
The books follow a standard format and all, bar Volume 11, come in at between 52 and 62 pages. The sub-title tells you all you need to know about the content of the books; The final resting places of some of those associated with cricket. Volume 11, which weighs in at twice the normal size also has a self-explanatory sub-title, A guide to some of the memorials associated with cricket
The format consists of a single page per cricketer, that page containing a photograph of his last resting place accompanied by a brief synopsis of the man, consisting of, usually, around 100 words. There are just a few who get two pages, John Wisden and WG being examples of men who receive two photographs, and Albert Trott and Thomas Assheton Smith (in Volume 18) get an extra page of text, but they are very much the exception.
Many of the subjects are, like Smith, from cricketing pre-history and there are a number of graves in poor condition but, as they say, every picture tells a story, and it is surprising how interesting they can be. The synopsis is anything but a dry statistical summary and some curious information comes to light. I was particularly intrigued by the page devoted to Charles Parnther in the latest volume. It was not Parnther’s fairly brief First Class career in the 1830s that caught my eye so much as the fact he was dismissed from his employment with the Foreign Office Slave Trade Department for mishandling money, not once but twice!
Parnther also has an impressive looking grave, unlike the most distinguished cricketer in Volume 18, Surrey and England batsman Andrew Sandham who, sadly, rests in an unmarked plot in Streatham Park Cemetery. At the other end of the scale Volume 18 contained, as did Volume 1, a page devoted to The Honourable Ivo Bligh, the first Englishman to recover the Ashes. There is hope for Sandham however, as Bligh’s grave as featured in Volume 1 had become somewhat shabby but, fully restored in the meantime, Volume 18 depicts the now salubrious final resting place of the man who in later life became the eight Earl of Darnley.
I have to say I do enjoy Philip Paine’s little books. It is true the photographs can occasionally be of frustrating quality, making one hanker after a professionally taken image reproduced on art paper, but that would take away the cottage industry feel and doubtless cause the price to spiral well above the GBP6, including postage, that Volume 18 costs, and even that represents a 20% rise on earlier volumes, forced by Royal Mail’s remarkable price hikes last year.
In similar vein there was a time when I found it mildly irritating that the text in the books was not subjected to MS Word’s “justify” button, but again I have got used to that and, were it to change now, I dare say I would find that difficult to adjust to.
All of the books have been published in signed limited editions of 250, with the exception of the first, of which there are 300 copies. I believe most of them are still available, although certainly those that concentrated on war graves found their way into the target area of collectors of military books as well as cricketing bibliophiles, and are consequently rather trickier to track down. For anyone who is interested in the series please email us and we will put you in touch with the author.