Shantry’s MatchMartin Chandler |
Author: Edwards, Paul
Publisher: Masart Print and Design
Rating: 4 stars
Jack Shantry first played for Worcestershire in 2009. He played his last match for the county in 2017. He was only 29, but back problems had forced him out of the game. He was one of that breed of archetypal county journeyman who won’t ever have been the subject of discussion for England’s selectors, but he was and is immensely popular in Worcestershire, something clearly evidenced by his being awarded a Testimonial in 2019, despite having already left his county career behind.
There was a time when Testimonial brochures were de rigeur, and very good they could be. Collections of short articles by the great and the good, some photographs, a few statistics and as much advertising as the committee could sell. I suspect it is the difficulty in securing that vital funding stream that means such souvenirs are rarer than they once were. There is no brochure for Shantry’s Testimonial, but there is this booklet, something much, much better in terms of content and with nary an advertisement in sight.
No doubt the susceptibility to back injuries was one consequence of possessing a 6’5’’ frame. An all-rounder Shantry was a left arm medium pace bowler with a, shall we say highly individual, action. I would attempt to describe it, but could not do so remotely as well as George Dobell does in the biographical note that closes Shantry’s Match. In his 92 match First Class career Shantry only twice managed a ten wicket match haul and, a decent enough batsman but with limitations, there were just two centuries over the years.
Those modest figures notwithstanding there were a number of important contributions down the years, but also one stellar performance, one of the two centuries and one of the two ten wicket hauls coming in the same game against Surrey in 2014. To make the experience taste even sweeter as Shantry led what for some time had seen an improbable victory charge he also took his team to promotion. The major part of Shantry’s Match consists of Paul Edwards’ account of that remarkable game.
There has been a bit of editing, but essentially what the reader gets is Edwards’ cricinfo reports for each of the four days of the match. These are supplemented by an impression of each day of the match from Shantry himself, and thoughts are also contributed by Worcestershire skipper Daryl Mitchell, and coach Steve ‘Bumpy’ Rhodes. There are also a few words from Joe Leach, who shared a century partnership with Shantry and, interestingly, a couple of pages from Vikram Solanki, once of Worcestershire but by 2014 turning out for Surrey.
Edwards is one of the best current writers on county cricket and with the help of those involved he does an excellent job of bringing a memorable match to life. That said the real jewel in the crown is Dobell’s essay. Because I find cricinfo so frustrating to use I don’t spend anything like as much time on the site as I once did, and as a result see less of Dobell’s work than I should. Reading his appreciation of Shantry I find myself reminded of everything that is good about county cricket and its characters, as well as what quality cricket writing is all about. I must make more effort to start reading cricinfo again.
Shantry’s Match is highly recommended and buying a copy at a very reasonable £10 is the right thing to do on many levels. Sadly the book is not as easy to acquire as it might be, but we are happy to pass the contact details of anyone wishing to purchase to the Testimonial committee, and to those in Australia who may be interested Roger Page has a few copies in stock.