The Pupil Meets The Master

Published: 2008
Pages: 10
Author: Cardwell, Ronald
Publisher: The Cricket Publishing Company
Rating: 3 stars

The setting could have come straight out of a boys’ comic from the middle years of the last century. A mighty touring team visits an outpost of the game for a one off fixture. The opening bowlers are two of the most famous and feared names in the sport; ‘Fiery’ Fred Trueman and Frank ‘Typhoon’ Tyson.

The locals can call on a single top class player, the national captain John Reid. Those under Reid’s command comprise some decent cricketers but, with the best will in the world, no one can describe them as any more than that. The opening batsmen whose job it will be to blunt that famous opening attack are a 21 year old with a memorable name, Spiro Zavos, and 18 year old Bruce Murray. Zavos, of Greek descent, had not played a First Class match before and never did again. For Murray this was his second First Class appearance. In time he would collect 13 Test caps, but he never quite cracked it.

The Pupil Meets The Master is the story of that match told primarily through the eyes of Zavos, but also with input from Murray. In a 1950s comic book version Spiros would, of course, have scored a century and the locals would have triumphed in a grandstand finish. Naturally the real match took a very different and more predictable course, but if Zavos contributed just three and five he tells the reader all about ‘his moment’, a square cut for four from the bowling of the typhoon.

These sort of accounts tend to be either very good or bland and disappointing depending on whether or not the author has had access to those who were involved or just to contemporary writings. Ronald Cardwell has, unsurprisingly given his previous record, woven together the stories of Zavos and Murray with much care and skill and the result is a delightful read, just the right length to keep a reader occupied during the tea interval of an interesting Test match.

There is a single photograph present in the booklet, and a splendid one it is too, of the debutant hanging on every word of what is clearly a lesson in swing bowling from Trueman. The Pupil Meets The Master is, and nothing less is to be expected from this publisher, very nicely produced in a signed and numbered limited edition of fifty copies, ten of which have been bound in leather. I have but two grumbles. One small one is that the whole scorecard of that match between Wellington and the MCC in March of 1959 is not reproduced. More serious a flaw is a question invited by the first line of the author’s note that forms the introduction; This story is the first in a series detailing the events surrounding a cricketer whose first class career was limited. Ten years on where is the second offering? It is long overdue.



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