The Pocket History Of The Ashes

Published: 2017
Pages: 272
Author: Nicholls, Barry
Publisher: New Holland
Rating: 3 stars

It’s that time again when one of the World’s oldest sporting contests is set to continue, and the cry can be heard from London to Sydney – who has those Ashes?

The Ashes commenced in 1882 and The Pocket History of The Ashes commences with the 1882/83 series. The book typically dedicates three pages per series: one page of text, one page of results and one page of stats. The book is set out in a social media savvy way. There is Facebook Moment and Twitter Fact for each series and for the more traditional there is a Newspaper Headline.

Author Barry Nicholls does an amazing job in presenting the highlights, and sometimes the low lights, of each series in such a short remit. We meet all the greats from W.G. Grace to Bradman; Botham to Warne and Root to Smith.

The early series show just how dominant England were over Australia and the ball over the bat. So it must have been the quality of the England batsmen that delivered 11 out of the first 12 series, as Australia appeared to have the better bowlers.

It took Australia until their 5-0 series whitewash in 1920/21 to finally assert their dominance. By this stage the batsmen had taken over from the bowlers, and where a hundred was the benchmark, now multiple tons and double hundreds were required.

The big batting records, some of which still stand, were established in the 1920s and 1930s. The batting names from that period are all time legends; Suttcliffe, Hobbs, Bradman, Hammond and Hutton. How Nicholls manages to fit in all these record scores into one page of text and still keep his narrative interesting and informative is a master class in summary writing.

There are some tough series to visit and there are some joyful series to remember. It all depends on whether you support the Aussies or the English (Convicts or Poms if you’re not worried about being PC). For Australian fans of a certain vintage the 1981 series still stings. In a winning position in two Tests the Aussies ran into a rampant Botham. Nicholls captures all the hurt for Aussies and joy for the English fans and despite the limited space includes a lovely anecdote about Lillee, Marsh and the ‘Geezer’ (you will have to purchase a copy of the book to obtain the story).

For the Aussie fans the period from 1989 to 2004 is pleasurable reading as the Aussies had the greatest run in Ashes History (in terms of series wins). Thankfully for The Ashes, England has evened things up in recent years.

As we learn from The Pocket History of The Ashes, Australia and England go into the 2017/18 tour tied at 69 series a piece. This little book will tell you how they won or lost each one of those series and is a must have for any cricket fan.


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