Author: Jerry Lodge
Publisher: The History Press
Rating: 2 stars
By Martin Chandler
25 Dec 2008
Stuart Surridge earned his place in cricket history by leading Surrey to the first five of their seven consecutive County Championship titles between 1952 and 1958. Those were the only five seasons in which he played full-time and captained the county and while he had at his disposal throughout a battery of superb bowlers lavish praise has always been heaped on his captaincy skills by his contemporaries.
It is also, of course, generally known that for years Surridge was the head of the family firm of sports equipment manufacturers, who for many years were one of the main players in that market, and that he was the president of Surrey in the late 1980's.
Surridge played for Surrey as an amateur but wasn't the kind that was born with a silver spoon in his mouth. The family firm had been going for two generations when he was born. He didn't go to university and although he attended public school it was not one of the better known ones. He had to work for a living and it was fortunate for Surrey that he was able to combine that with playing.
As a cricketer Surridge never troubled the England selectors but he was a capable performer nonetheless. He was an aggressive, bustling, fast-medium bowler who took his share of wickets and he could and did score quick runs when the occasion demanded and he was a magnificent close catcher as well as being an inspirational captain.
The first eight chapters of this book follow the same formula as the majority of this type of cricketing biography. They are well researched and tell us about the family background and how the Surridge business was set up as well as dealing with Stuart's childhood, schooling and his cricketing career prior to his acceptance of the Surrey captaincy for the 1952 season. This part of the book is excellent but sadly the excellence doesn?t last. Nobody who picks up this book is not going to know what happened in 1952, 1953, 1954, 1955 and 1956 and the five chapters bearing those titles simply recount the details of the season concerned with a brief summary of each game. There is nothing in these chapters that anybody who has looked at Wisden for those years, and the reality is that virtually everybody who reads them will have done, has not previously read and as a result the content is very disappointing. I would have thought that it would have been much better for a handful of games each year to have been singled out and for the author to have concentrated on explaining the contribution Surridge made to them.
To make matters worse Surridge's career post 1956 is dealt with in one short chapter and the nine pages devoted to a man who ran a leading cricket equipment business and was Surrey president are palpably insufficient to deal with the latter 32 years of his life. Finally there is an unsatisfactory retrospective in the last chapter which consists almost entirely of quotations from other works and altogether the second half of this book leaves me with the abiding impression that either the author was working to a deadline he couldn?t keep or alternatively that he simply lost interest in his project at half time.
I have given this book two stars based on four for the first half and nothing for the second.