Keith Carmody: Keith Miller’s Favourite Captain

Published: 2012
Pages: 144
Author: Barker, Tony
Publisher: ACS
Rating: 4 stars

Keith Carmody: Keith Miller's Favourite Captain

Keith Carmody’s entry in cricketarchive is not of itself going to excite anyone into buying his biography. He was a specialist batsman who lost six years to the Second World War, and only played in 65 First Class matches. His career average was a modest 28.89, and there were just two centuries in a decade and a half. But what an interesting book Tony Barker has written about a man who, without it, would only ever be remembered in the context of the umbrella field placing still known as a “Carmody field”.

There are some, and Barker does deal with them briefly, who say there were skippers before Carmody who utilised an umbrella field, but does it really matter? Ellis Achong was not the first man to bowl the “chinaman”, and Bernard Bosanquet wasn’t the inventor of the googly any more than Douglas Jardine was the first man to employ leg theory bowling. Move on gentlemen – it’s called a Carmody field and always will be.

The first aspect of Barker’s book that I enjoyed was the introduction to Australian history. To Aussie readers the opening pages might be superfluous, but as an outsider looking in I was certainly interested in how and why Carmody’s forebears ended up where they did. The family had a struggle, and Carmody’s upbringing was not easy. Then as soon as he reached adulthood the War began.

Carmody joined the war, and ended up in the RAAF with the man whose name appears in the sub-title of the book. Recent research has confirmed that contrary to popular belief Keith Miller did not actually spend much time, if any, with a “Messerschmidt up his arse”. By dint of the same archives it is just as clear that Carmody did, and he also spent a long period as a prisoner of war, his diaries from his period of incarceration providing many fascinating insights for his biographer.

After playing a role, admittedly relatively minor, in the Australian Services XI that played the series of Victory Tests in 1945 it was back home to New South Wales. In time for the 1947/48 season however Carmody crossed the continent and became Western Australia’s coach and captain as they joined the Sheffield Shield. Everyone expected them to be the whipping boys, but the scarcely credible story is told of how Carmody took them to the Shield in that first season. He lead from the front too, his only Shield century, 198, paving the way for an innings defeat of South Australia in the Sandgropers first ever fixture in the competition.

It couldn’t and didn’t last, and the relationship and results soured before ending in the mid 1950s. The story of Carmody’s attitude to coaching is an interesting one however, as is the story of his personal life, which is never fully unraveled despite both of his daughters co-operating with Barker.

The end of the story is a sad one. A once happy marriage broke down and alcohol became a big issue in Carmody’s life before, eventually, health problems were diagnosed as cancer far too late for any meaningful treatment to be administered. Keith Carmody died at the comparatively early age of 58 – it was however, as the saying goes, “a life well lived”, and Barker’s book is certainly a story well told.

Cricket is the constant theme that runs through Keith Carmody: Keith Miller’s Favourite Captain, but for much of the book the game’s role in his story is a peripheral one. The match by match, season by season account that is the approach of a number of previous volumes in the Lives in Cricket series is wholly absent here, and without wishing to denigrate that format, this is a much more rounded book, and much more a biography than simply an account of a life in cricket.


I am trying to purchase a paperback edition of Martin Chandler published 2012 called Keith Carmody: Keith Miller’s favourite captain .
Please advise if I can purchase from you. I live in Brisbane Queensland Australia.
Thanks in advance. 0491125022 mobile

Comment by Lesley stafford | 12:43am GMT 17 February 2017

Can I purchase a paperback book from you by Martin Chandler called Keith Carmody: Keith Miller’s Favourite Captain. If you email yes then I will phone you if you quote yours.
I live in Brisbane,Queensland Australia
Thanks in advance for your reply

Comment by Lesley stafford | 12:48am GMT 17 February 2017

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