Reminiscences of ‘Plum’ WarnerMartin Chandler |
Author: Snow, Philip
Publisher: JW McKenzie
Rating: 4.5 stars
Philip Snow was the youngest of four brothers. One was the bestselling author CP Snow, and another Eric Snow, who was the leading historian on Leicestershire cricket for many years. Philip himself played for Leicestershire Second XI before spending many years in ‘Colonial Administration’ in Fiji. His 1949 book on the history of cricket there remains a classic.
Once he returned from Fiji Snow came to know Pelham Warner very well, and shortly before his death, in 2012 at the age of 96, book dealer and publisher John McKenzie asked him to write something of his memories of Warner. The result is an example of what this sort of publication does best – a few well-chosen words that vividly illuminate the swathes of writing that have previously appeared on its subject.
What the half dozen or so pages Snow has penned tell us are not biographical in the strict sense of the word. They deal with his relationship with Warner and his impressions of Plum’s character. By far their major contribution to our knowledge of the game however is the way in which Snow illustrates the depths of the scars the travails of 1932/33 left on Warner. The spectre of ‘Bodyline’ is very much the key to Snow’s essay and one of the two photographs the book contains reinforces the point. It is of Snow going out to bat in a club match in 1954. His partner is Douglas Jardine, and the image a rare capture of the Iron Duke in later life.
Reminiscences of ‘Plum’ Warner concludes with a four page ‘afterword’ from Gerry Wolstenholme, well known to me for his writings on some of the more esoteric aspects of Lancashire cricket, and it was something of a surprise to see him contributing here. The whys and wherefores of Gerry’s involvement is not however of any real significance. The fact is he has lent his name to a splendid contribution to cricket literature. The book appeared in a signed and numbered limited edition of 75 and was still available in John’s most recent catalogue, a snip at £21. The fact it has not sold out must, I assume, be indicative of its contents not being appreciated by those many enthusiasts seeking to gain a greater understanding of the 1932/33 series, and I would recommend a speedy acquisition of it now.