ico-h1 CRICKET BOOKS

The Tours of the Pakistan Eaglets to the UK in the 1950s

Published: 2020
Pages: 196
Author: Battersby, David
Publisher: Battersby, David
Rating: 3.5 stars

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The latest in David Battersby’s looks at aspects of cricket history is one of the most interesting yet, covering as it does a corner of Pakistan’s cricket history that is inextricably linked to England. Most cricket lovers with any interest in the game in the couple of decades after the war will recognise the name of the Pakistan Eaglets, but I doubt that very many of them will know much about the teams that visited these shores every summer between 1952 and 1959.

In fact those who have heard of the Eaglets have generally done so because they have seen the section on the tour by a team of that name in 1963 in the following years Wisden. Those Eaglets, the final set of tourists under that name to come to England, played eight First Class matches but, other than mentioning it in passing, that trip is not the subject of this book. Nonetheless, and given his track record, I suspect it is a visit that at some point in the future will find its story told within the covers of a Battersby limited edition.

Unlike that in 1963 the eight tours in the 1950s did not include a single First Class fixture, but although most of the team had youth on their side there were some top quality cricketers on show, including the likes of Fazal Mahmood, Hanif and Mushtaq Mohammad, Intikhab Alam and a host of others who were to go and play Test cricket for Pakistan.

Battersby gives a brief account of the forward thinking individuals who decided that the Eaglets tours, which consisted of a mixture of playing matches against a variety of opposition and receiving coaching at the Alf Gover cricket school, would assist in the development of Pakistan cricket. At the end of the book there are also interviews with two of the surviving Eaglets, Intikhab and the rather less well known Salimuddin. 

The main purpose of the book is to try and recreate the tours and give a match by match account of the Eaglets’ visits. Many of the fixtures were against club teams and scratch local sides and it is perhaps not surprising therefore that despite their youth all of these collections of future and occasionally current Test match players had a very good playing record. Occasionally the opposition was stronger, and in 1959 there was a match against a team featuring Garry Sobers, although sadly that is one of those for which no scorecard has been found. 

Considering that the Eaglets’ visits were made less than a lifetime ago it is remarkable how little impact they have made on the literature of the game. Many of the matches do not have a scorecard on Cricketarchive, and although a few programmes and brochures exist there were no post tour accounts and very little coverage in the national press or The Cricketer. As a result Battersby has had to scour local newspapers and similar sources. His efforts have produced a great deal of information, and whilst much research can now be done without straying far from an author’s home office I am sure that lockdown must have hampered Battersby’s efforts and that he will in the future find out more about these eight tours, and when he does I hope that the promised addendum does indeed appear.

The Tours of the Pakistan Eaglets to the UK in the 1950s is an interesting read on a little chronicled but important part of Pakistan’s development as a Test playing nation and it is highly recommended. It is neatly produced and illustrated with some contemporary photographs as well as reproductions of some items of memorabilia that the tour generated. As with all of Battersby’s self-published books it appears in a limited edition, this time of 120 signed and numbered copies, each copy accompanied by a signed photograph of Salimuddin. The cost of the book is £15 including UK postage and packing. Copies can be obtained direct from the author, whose email is dave@talbot.force9.co.uk.

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