The 2016 Pakistan Tour of the UKMartin Chandler |
Author: Battersby, David
Publisher: David Battersby
Rating: 3.5 stars
When was the last time a publication devoted to the subject of a Pakistan tour of England appeared? It is never wise to be too dogmatic about such questions, but if there has been one since 1997 it has escaped my eagle eye. What there has never been, as far as I am aware, is anything of a bookish nature about such a tour by an English writer so, 62 years after the first Pakistan Test series in England, David Battersby breaks new ground. As he was only the second* Englishman to write an account of a tour to Pakistan as well, last year’s reflective account of the 1977/78 visit, In the Shadow of Packer, it is appropriate that he has gone one better here.
Or has he? First of all is the fact that The 2016 Pakistan Tour of the UK is not really a book at all. It is a 28 page booklet, privately published in a signed limited edition of fifty. It would also be stretching the definition of the genre to breaking point to describe the booklet as a tour account. Of those 28 pages only one does not have at least one photograph on it, and indeed only six others have any text other than the captions that accompany the photographs, and even those consist largely of potted scores rather than any sort of narrative.
What can be said with certainty is that all of the images in the booklet do relate to the tour. Without exception they were taken by Battersby himself. I am sure he will forgive me for saying he is no Patrick Eagar, but there is still something very appealing about these shots. There are a number of the play Battersby had the pleasure of watching, particularly well chosen are the reminders of the attractive and essentially orthodox bowling action of Sohail Khan, striking an interesting contrast with those of the increasingly unorthodox batting style of namesake Younis.
There are several examples of the tourists practising, and it is good to see them enjoying themselves doing so, and a few shots of scorecards and other memorabilia from the tour. The majority of the photographs however are where Battersby has simply asked the Pakistan players if he can snap them. It would seem all agreed, and those photographs are fascinating. My expectation would be that as international sportsmen the players would have treated such requests as at best a chore, and at worst as downright tiresome. What comes through time and again however are smiles of real warmth – as Battersby reminds his reader on page one Michael Vaughan described this tour as wonderful to watch. For the Pakistanis at least it seems also to have been a delight to participate in.
As with his two similar ventures, Javed, The Prince of Wales and England at the Gaddafi Stadium Battersby has self published this limited edition of fifty copies, which are available at the very modest cost of £3.50 post free in the UK – anyone interested who has not purchased from Battersby before let us know and we will put you in touch with him.
*Initially I thought he was first to achieve that as well, but on reflection Scyld Berry, who wrote a contemporary book that covered the ill-starred visit of Mike Gatting’s side in 1987/88, was certainly one man who beat him to that one.