Cricket and Classics
Author: James and William Longden
Rating: 3 stars
By Archie Mac
26 Dec 2008
There seem to be a number of books around recently about the lesser lights of Test cricket, and there are not too many more obscure cricketers then Gervys Hazlitt, playing in nine Tests before the Great War, claiming just 23 wickets and scoring 89 runs.
His first two Tests were classic confrontations with the young Hazlitt being the hero, rescuing Australia with the bat in the first, but turning to villain when he botched a simple run out, in the second, that if completed would have resulted in the first tied Test in history, and the only one in Ashes cricket.
Unlucky to miss the 1909 tour, he was selected for the dismal flop known as the Triangular Tournament of 1912, after the 'Big Six' refused to tour England. Hazlitt enjoyed his finest moment of his Test career claiming 7-25, but the tour as a whole was beset by poor behaviour by some of the players. As Hazlitt had his recently married wife on tour, it is not surprising that he was not accused of any wrong doing.
As the 1912 tour was a financial disaster Hazlitt and Charlie Macartney showed great financial acumen in accepting a flat fee of 400 pounds, the rest of the team who accepted a share of the tour profits received less than half this amount.
Hazlitt was not only enjoying a rapid rise in cricket, making his Test debut at just 19, he was also a fine scholar excelling in the classics such as Latin, becoming a teacher and just missing out on a scholarship to England. It was just as well he crammed so much into such a short time frame, as he was to die aged just 27.
The authors have performed a fine job in researching and presenting this intriguing man, but did let themselves down to some extent with a number of factorial errors. Although of a basic nature they became annoying after a while, statements such as 'for the first time since 1884, Adelaide was to host a Test match'. This written in regards to the Test series of 1907/08, is just simply wrong. Or telling us that Syd Gregory was to replace Warwick Armstrong as captain of the 1912 tour, the captain surely was to be Clem Hill.
This sort of unprofessional proofing, might be tolerable in a book of 400+ pages, but is unforgivable in a book of less than 100 pages. As always these rare books can be purchased through our good friend Roger Page- 03 9435 6332