On Tour with Brian BoothArchie Mac |
Author: Cardwell, Ronald and Booth, Brian
Publisher: The Cricket Publishing Company
Rating: 3.5 stars
This is the tour book of Brian Booth’s Ashes trip to England in 1961. At the time of the tour Booth was a 27 year old school teacher, and was yet to play Test cricket, so his selection was a little unexpected. There was great excitement amongst his students and as a gesture they presented their teacher with a diary to record his tour experiences.
Booth faithfully entered his thoughts on each day of the tour, including the boat trip to England. Once he returned to Australia he promptly packed the diary away and but for a chance conversation with publisher, and friend, Ronald Cardwell, packed away it may have stayed.
For those who are unfamiliar with Brian Booth, he is probably the nicest man to have played Test cricket. No one has ever had a bad word to say about Booth. A pious man, he attends a religious service every Sunday on tour, even the party boys have nothing but praise for the man. Booth was also modest to a fault.
Given his personality, it is not surprising that Booth does not raise any controversies in his diary nor does he make any disparaging remarks about team-mates or opponents. Still the diary is of interest as Booth provides insights into the last Ashes tour to be undertaken by sea.
The Australian team, led by the legendary Richie Benaud, was a mix of experience and rookies. Not surprisingly, and despite good tour form, Booth was initially unable to force his way into the Test side. However an injury to Colin McDonald, allowed Booth to make his Test debut in the fourth Ashes match. Booth’s innate modesty was captured in his entry on learning that he would make his Test debut; “selected in 4th Test – Colin McDonald injured”.
Going into the fourth Test the series was locked one all. Booth’s debut Test was to be a legendary match, with Benaud bowling the Aussies to a great win after the Australians looked certain to lose. England at one stage appeared so certain to win that Booth’s entry on the night before the final day was “looks like test (sic) is definitely lost”.
Due to Booth’s modesty, Cardwell adds reproductions of newspaper clippings to fill in the blanks. There are also many photographs reproduced. The only complaint is the lack of captions to identify those in the photos. That is the only minor quibble in this charming little book, which is well worth a read.