The Wrong Line

Published: 2012
Pages: 306
Author: Ramsey, Andrew
Publisher: ABC Books
Rating: 4.5 stars

The Wrong Line
The Wrong Line

I first spotted The Wrong Line in a book store however, the by-line “what happens on tour sometimes needs to be told…” for some reason gave me the impression it was a tour book of Australia’s ill fated four nil thrashing in India and as such I gave it a miss. I didn’t think of it again until I spotted a very short, though mostly positive, review in Wisden 2014. The day after the Wisden review, I again found myself in a book store and spotted a first edition of The Wrong Line for $15.00, next to the second edition of the book for $20.00. How can a cricket tragic pass up that paradox?

From the first pages, where we find Ramsey on his first overseas tour on a plane with the Australian cricket team, perhaps naively, perusing the subpar, Calypso Cricket, I was hooked. Cricket books by their subject are rarely page turners, and while I was not reading The Wrong Line while stopped at traffic lights it was still devoured at every spare moment available.

We follow Ramsey through a marriage breakdown, a near meltdown and a seemingly ever changing chief editor. One of the bosses mentioned will be familiar to most, at best a prick and at worst a psychopath. All of which equates to a ripping yarn, especially when you add the normal pitfalls of travel such as no internet connection, lost luggage and the vagaries of air flights.

Ramsey’s travails are the essence of the book, as is his relationship with the players, which lurches from inclusivity to contempt. Overall Ramsey is labelled as one of the “good ones” by Shane Warne. A backhanded compliment which the author considers an insult, his thinking being that he was not harsh enough with his criticism of the Australian cricketers being unable to break a big story, despite 15 years on tour.

This is surprising as Ramsey covered one of the most successful eras in Australian cricket, which contained some of the biggest controversies, from match fixing to the Warne diuretic; which by the way Ramsey thinks the human headline was naive rather than duplicitous. What was surprising was that the press corps didn’t care whether Australia won or lost and in fact gave the impression that they would rather their countryman lost, as this predominately generates the bigger headline.

Still there is loyalty. Although the matters discussed date back to the Ponting era, Ramsay does not always name the players involved in controversies. Despite this reticence to name names, there are plenty of insights from a disgruntled Rod Marsh suggesting he and Ramsey sort matters out in the car-park of a hotel, to an inebriated Andrew Symonds threatening him in a bar.

This book should be read by all of those who followed one of the greatest periods of Australian cricket or any future cricket journalist. You/they will be better informed by The Wrong Line than Calypso Cricket. It has just as much controversy but is of a much higher standard. Recommended by the Mac.

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