Simply The Best?

Published: 2020
Pages: 12
Author: Allen, Dave
Publisher: Hampshire Cricket Heritage
Rating: 3.5 stars

There have been 23 occasions on which a bowler has taken 17 wickets in a First Class match. Since the game resumed after the Second World War it has been done twice, but only once in one of the game’s main centres. In 2004 John Davison achieved the feat for Canada against the USA, but understandably many of us missed that one. It was hardly surprising therefore when in September of last year the South African Kyle Abbott, for Hampshire against Somerset, created a few headlines. Measured in terms of runs conceded of those 23 occurrences Abbott’s 17-86 is the seventh best and, amongst pace bowlers, it stands at the top of the list.

In the circumstances Abbott’s performance is certainly deserving of a permanent record, and has been given one by Hampshire’s historian and archivist Dave Allen. The booklet is published by Hampshire Cricket Heritage Limited, a non-profit making organisation that is in the process of applying for charitable status. In short all the proceeds from sales of the booklet will go back into Hampshire cricket, a thoroughly worthwhile cause.

So what do the twelve pages comprise? The booklet begins with what amount to a couple of forewords from the county’s director of cricket, Giles White, and local radio commentator Kevan James, both former Hampshire players. There is, of course, an account of the match and in addition a brief pen portrait of Abbott, a photograph of him and another of the scene when he took the final wicket of the match. 

And there the booklet could reasonably have ended, but this one was prepared by a historian, so there is plenty more as Allen takes a look at the county’s previous best, 16-88 by Jack Newman in 1927, as well as other sterling feats by such luminaries as Derek Shackleton and Bob Cottam. Simply the Best? is a fine record of a notable cricketing achievement and, at £6 including UK postage and packing, demands only a modest outlay all of which, as indicated, is only going to benefit Hampshire cricket.

Copies can be obtained from the publisher by emailing dave.allen@port.ac.uk or alternatively, for those in the southern hemisphere, Roger Page has copies available.

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