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Book Review
Ashes Anecdotes
Published: 2006
Pages: 375
Author: Penguin Books
Publisher: Gideon Haigh
Rating: 4 stars
By Archie Mac
03 Jan 2007


A talented young batsman asked by WG Grace where he would like to bat, responds; "It doesn't really matter, Doctor, I've never made a duck in my life". WG responds "never made a blob eh? Then it's number 11 for you. Not enough experience".

And I thought I had read all of the anecdotes (apocryphal and otherwise) about the GOM (grand old man). Happily the No.1 modern cricket writer Gideon Haigh has found many such gems in his hunt for the best Ashes Anecdotes.

A quick look at the bibliography, which features well over 250 entries, gives some idea of the exhaustive research the author has undertaken.

If some of the more popular anecdotes are missing it can well be explained by the fact that Haigh released an Australian Cricket Anecdotes back in 1996, which is probably the best of its kind ever published. The book by necessity contained many of the best stories relating to the little urn.

In this latest offering even the great historian Manning Clark earns a run, his second hand account of what Bill Bowes said to Jack Fingleton after he bowled Bradman during the Bodyline series for one of his three most celebrated ducks; Bill Bowes turned to the non striker Fingleton and said in a broad Yorkshire accent, "Well I'll be stoofed!" (Bowdlerised version).

Just to show that the Australian preoccupation of cricket was ever such: "Too much public attention is give to the Test Match!" exclaimed a severe looking gentleman on a tramcar. "It disorganises everything. We should keep our balance and not allow sport to sway us so much". Soon a man boarded the tram and remarked "Armstrong has got his century" " ah I thought he would!" said the severe looking gentleman.

I have limited myself to just three examples from this little treasure of a book, just to wet your appetite, after all there are over 1000+ more entries to see you through a break in play. Recommended reading for all cricket fans.

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