Bobby Abel - Professional Batsman
Author: David Kynaston
Publisher: Secker & Warburg
Rating: 3 stars
By Archie Mac
10 Nov 2009
The preface started this book off on the front foot (although the subject was better known for his back-foot play) with a quote by Ben Travers "No one could put him among the planets, but he permanently twinkles as a star"
I am still not sure why I did not particularly enjoy this effort. I love the writing of David Kynaston, and he has performed a thorough job of researching the book. Maybe it is the research, which is the problem. I found it very factual but not overly entertaining. The length of analytical research can be demonstrated with the author dedicating an entire chapter to the batting style of Abel, which at 36 pages seemed to be overkill.
Even the choice of title annoyed me, why was it not called the 'Guvnor' Guvnor was the name that Bobby Abel was affectionately known as by the adoring crowds of England, especially at his beloved Oval. In the end Guvnor was the name given to the first chapter. Although the choice of the famous 'Spy' cartoon as the dust jacket cannot be faulted.
Bobby Abel has come down in history as batsman who did not like facing bowling on a fiery track when confronted by a particularly quick bowler. He is often linked with the proclamation that he could not afford to be killed because he had a young family at home!
It also seems that Abel was not only loved by an adoring public, but was extremely popular with teammates and opposition alike. At five feet five and very small frame Abel cut an instantly recognizable figure on the field; whether batting or fielding, he stood out and would have been known today as a marketable commodity.
Abel unfortunately suffered from eye trouble intermittently throughout his career and it was this infliction that was to eventually bring down the curtain on this professional batsman. On rereading this review I think I have given this book too hard an assessment, and although I don?t think this the best effort of David Kynaston it is still a quality read, and is recommend by the Mac.