Papa Joe: 80 Not OutMartin Chandler |
Author: Froman, Judy
Rating: 4 stars
I recognised the name of Joe Pamensky as soon as I realised that he was the subject of this book. That of itself made it likely that he had something to do with cricket, but in the end I confess that I did have to google him.
From that exercise I at least learned that cricket was indeed the reason for my familiarity with the Pamensky name, albeit not because he was a player, well not at First Class level anyway. He was a cricket loving accountant who became an administrator. His involvement with running the game in South Africa began just as the old Springboks were sent into exile. From there he oversaw the move to multi-racial cricket and, in doing so was involved in the rebel tours of the 1980s and, eventually, South Africa’s readmission to the world game a few years later.
The cricketing story is one that has been told before, most notably by Mike Procter and Pat Murphy in their 1994 book South Africa: The Years of Isolation and the Return to International Cricket. There is nothing in Papa Joe 80 Not Out that adds anything of great significance to that account, but an interesting personal angle is added.
It is worth making an early mention of the purpose the book, as it was never intended for public consumption. It was privately produced and the author, Judy Troman, commissioned to write it by Pamensky’s children. It is therefore a family story, and written for future generations of that family and, perhaps inevitably in those circumstances I did feel like something of an intruder as I shared a journey that began in nineteenth century Latvia.
That the book was not intended to be a commercial venture is clear from the way it has been produced. In landscape format it it is printed on high quality paper throughout, superbly bound and profusely illustrated with an extensive selection of family photographs and images from other sources. In addition photographic records of a number of family documents and artefacts have been skilfully incorporated.
The ultimate tribute having been paid to him I have no doubt but that ‘Papa Joe’ himself is immensely proud of a book that must be a treasure trove of memories for him. The book was clearly shared with friends as well as family, the copy I have been fortunate enough to be able to acquire carrying a warm inscription from Pamensky to the former England batsman Doug Insole and, perhaps more famously a fellow administrator.
Papa Joe 80 Not Out is an excellent book and, to anyone with an interest in how South African cricket got to where it is today it is a warm and affectionate portrait of one of the more important individuals involved in that process. Not easy to obtain there are nonetheless a few copies of the book available in South Africa, although unless the postal service in that country has much improved in recent months I would suggest that the easiest way to get hold of the book would be to take a holiday in Johannesburg, where all the available copies seem to be.