Not Only, But AlsoMartin Chandler |
Author: Nash, Malcolm
Publisher: St David's Press
Rating: 3.5 stars
Back in the late 1960s and early 1970s you couldn’t watch any County Championship cricket on television, unless you lived in Wales. For some reason BBC Wales would often show Glamorgan’s home matches. As a child why this should be was a mystery to me, and I did think it were a little unfair. In fact I would probably have complained quite vociferously about the injustice of it, were it not the case that if the weather was favourable, and the aerial pointing towards the right transmitter, you could get BBC Wales where I lived on the Fylde Coast.
This conspiracy of circumstances meant that I used to get to see more of Glamorgan than I did of my beloved Lancashire, and I got to know the Glamorgan players pretty well. There was the stylish Tony Lewis (who contributes a preface to Not Only But Also), the mercurial Majid Khan, or Jahangir as he was then known. I have clear memories of the Jones brothers. Alan was an opening batsman – competent in the extreme, but not terribly exciting to watch for small boys. The exuberant Eifion behind the stumps was of more interest. The only bowlers I remember were the West Indian medium pacer Tony Cordle, and of course Malcolm Nash.
Sadly for me I wasn’t watching BBC Wales on 31 August 1968, so although I have seen the footage many times since, I didn’t see the drama unfolding as Garry Sobers struck Nash for six sixes in an over to become the first man to achieve that particular feat. It is the day that, inevitably, Nash is most remembered for. Sobers was, of course, a genius, and quite rightly Nash did not take the rough treatment too much to heart. He was only 23 at the time, but he was already a decent bowler and, whilst he never managed to impress quite enough to get anything further than being a Test possible he was a left arm seamer who, day in day out, was as reliable as any in the country. Nash also bowled some orthodox left arm spin at times, famously on that day in August 1968. As time passed Nash also hit plenty of sixes of his own, a sure way to get yourself ‘onside’ with the young and impressionable.
Nowadays Nash is a septuagenarian, and Sir Garfield is 81, but for some of us they will always be the men who appear in the evocative photograph that adorns the front cover of Not Only But Also. The book, naturally, begins with a chapter about Sobers, and equally fittingly ends with a nod to the Lion of Cricket as well. In between Nash tells, in very readable style, the story of his cricketing career, although it is a little disappointing that he chooses to deal with his life after cricket in a couple of perfunctory paragraphs.
The inevitable question is whether a cricketing autobiography of a man who never played international cricket is going to be of sufficient interest to enough people to justify its publication. St David’s Press obviously think so as this is the first of three such books they are releasing in the coming weeks. Nash is, thanks to Sobers, a name known to many and was, certainly in the opinion of this reviewer, a good enough player to have warranted that Test cap he never got. The same cannot be said of the subjects of the publisher’s next two cricket books however, right arm medium pacer Alan Wilkins and batsman Bernard Hedges.
What all three of Nash, Wilkins and Hedges have in common is their careers with Glamorgan and that they were born in Wales. The publisher’s name hints at its mission statement, and one assumes they were happy enough with sales of this biography of Jim Pleass, a Glamorgan batsman of the immediate post war period whose career did not touch the heights of Wilkins or Hedges, let alone Nash. I suspect the reality is that, Glamorgan being effectively the Welsh national side, the lack of Test or ODI experience is rather less important to the county’s followers than to those of other counties.
Over the 17 years of Nash’s career he went through just about everything a county cricketer can. In the late 1960s Glamorgan were a powerful side, and lifted the County Championship in 1969. At the other end of the emotional rollercoaster that is professional sport later on in Nash’s career, in 1976 and again in 1979, Glamorgan took the wooden spoon. On a personal level Nash got so far as a Test trial in 1976, and in time he led his county, but his career ended, not unusually for a professional cricketer, with his employer casting him aside in an unnecessarily insensitive way.
Nash has had many years since leaving the game in which to reflect on his career and the result is a measured and fully rounded account of an interesting career. Co-author Richard Bentley has teased much of interest out of Nash and told his story in absorbing fashion. The book is a paperback, but a very well produced one, and extensively illustrated. The index is excellent and whilst the statistics might be a little brief for some, this reviewer included, the bare bones of Nash’s career appear in a two page appendix at the back of the book.