Moments of GloryMartin Chandler |
Author: Watson, Joanne
Publisher: Lennard Publishing
Rating: 3 stars
When I was writing my recent blog post on the subject of Margaret Hughes I, not unnaturally, turned my mind more generally to the question of the contribution made by women writers to cricket literature. It is not certainly not a substantial one, few ladies having thus far chosen to follow the trail blazed by Margaret in the 1950s. This is one of the few and, having been published as long ago as 1990, now thirty years old itself.
I would have liked at this point to take a sentence or two to introduce Joanne Watson, but regrettably have been unable to find out very much about a writer whose only cricket book this is. I do know, from the blurb on the dust jacket, that at the time the book was written Joanne was working for the BBC as a sports reporter and presenter. A basic google search indicates she was still at the Beeb a decade later, but that is about all I know.
The book’s subtitle, Spectacular Achievements in Less Memorable Careers, sets the agenda. Divided into ten themed chapters the book devotes a few pages to some stirring deeds from the field coupled with pen portraits of the individuals concerned. A handful of the matches deal with relatively well known episodes, but not very many. Examples are Bob Massie’s 16 wicket haul on Test debut, Shute Bannerjee and Chandra Sarwate’s enduring achievement of scoring centuries from ten and eleven for India against Surrey in 1946, and the two men who have scored centuries in their only Tests, West Indian Andy Ganteaume and New Zealander Rodney Raymond.
The choice of subjects demonstrate an author with a real feel for the history of the game, and whilst there are no great revelations the book represents a gathering together of a number of stories that will entertain all who read them. The schoolboy chapter, certainly the longest, is amongst the most interesting. I particularly enjoyed the account of Fowler’s match (Eton v Harrow 1910) and of the match between Eton and Winchester in 1921 when John Guise scored 278, yet still ended up on the losing side.
Although the majority of the games covered were more ancient than modern there is also a chapter on one day cricket. I was reminded in that of a terrible day in 1981 when Northamptonshire beat Lancashire in the semi final of the Nat West Trophy. The reason for the game’s inclusion, the batting of the Northants number eleven Jim Griffiths, speaks volumes – he scored an unbeaten single – I shall say no more.
Also covered are a handful of team performances. One that, for some reason, I particularly enjoyed was the account of the first ever triumph by a Minor County in the old Gillette Cup. Victories by France over a decent MCC side in 1989, and of Netherlands over a good England side the same year are also included as well as an account of Ireland’s remarkable defeat of the 1969 West Indians at Sion Mills, when they dismissed their visitors for just 25.
The most thought provoking mention in the book comes at the end of the chapter on Schoolboy Success. We now know he went on to enjoy one of the most memorable cricket careers there has been, but when Joanne Watson was writing her book Sachin Tendulkar was just 16 and her precis
of his remarkable schoolboy record begins with the words; While the fates have still to decide if he is to mature into a major force or fizzle out into oblivion. It wasn’t too long after publication that we learnt the answer to that one.
How was the book received at the time it was published? As far as I can see it was not noticed by either Wisden or The Cricketer, and the only contemporary review I have found is a brief one in Wisden Cricket Monthly. The review opens by describing Moments of Glory as Ms Watson’s maiden cricket book, and after listing a handful of the stories covered somewhat patronisingly describes it as a pleasant little read.
Interestingly Moments of Glory was published at about the same time as Andrew Ward’s Cricket’s Strangest Matches, a book not dissimilar in content, but rather bulkier. In this reviewer’s opinion it is not such an interesting book, yet that one has been reprinted several times over the years and clearly therefore enjoyed much greater success. I hope that demonstrates the advantages of being part of a series of similar titles on different sports rather than any discrimination against a female sportswriter. In any event Moments of Glory itself is an interesting and well presented book and, for those who would like the opportunity to read it, not difficult to find at a reasonable price on the second hand market.