The Indefatigable ThomsonMartin Chandler |
Author: Sharp, Nicholas and Epps, Norman
Publisher: Sussex Cricket Museum
Rating: 3.5 stars
The Sussex Cricket Museum have produced another interesting little booklet with this short biography of Ian Thomson, the county’s opening bowler through most of the 1950s and the early 1960s. Thomson’s name is not a widely recognised one these days, although it will be familiar to anyone who has taken an interest in that era.
For my part I certainly knew that Thomson had been an important part of the Sussex attack, and I was aware that late in his career, as well as gaining five Test caps when called up as a late replacement for the 1964/65 tour of South Africa he had, a few months earlier, been one of the few bowlers to take ‘all ten’. Disappointingly for him when Thomson took his 10-49 against Warwickshire in 1964 he ended up on the losing side. The story of that match, the last but one ever played at Worthing is, of course, featured in The Indefatigable Thomson.
What I did not realise before reading The Indefatigable Thomson was just what an impressive First Class career record its subject has. Almost 1,600 wickets at 20.58 means he was a fine bowler by any measure, even if his limited international career suggests he was not quite Test class. Clearly an excellent bowler in England, it sounds like he lacked the extra pace that might have made him more successful in South Africa.
For younger readers the back story to Thomson’s life is an interesting look back to the way times were in the years after the Second World War, without in any way being unusual or controversial. For those who can recall the times it is inevitably a more mundane tale. Despite that the book still succeeds, for two main reasons. First and foremost Thomson is, in his ninetieth year, still with us and living in Sussex so Epps and Sharp are able to weave some of their subject’s own memories into his story. The second advantage the authors had is that Sharp, at club level, played against Thomson and in addition the Chair of the Sussex Cricket Museum, Jon Filby, contributes a few thoughts on the man who, in his time as a schoolmaster in the 1970s at Brighton College, was tasked with teaching the young Filby Geography.
All of the museum’s publications are a pleasure to own, and The Indefatigable Thomson is no exception. Printed on good quality paper it is exceptionally well illustrated, many of the images being in colour and some coming from Thomson’s own collection. It is produced in a numbered limited edition of 150 copies, all signed by Thomson, and is available from the museum for £20 including UK postage.