The Ultimate Test
Author: Gideon Haigh
Rating: 4 stars
By Archie Mac
07 Dec 2009
The author's last effort on the Ashes series in England in 2005, is close to the best tour book ever written. On that occasion the best extant cricket writer covered the greatest of all Ashes series (except maybe 1902 & 1894-95). Well this time the author did not have the same quality of series to cover, and although this is still a fine book, it never quite reaches the grandeur of its predecessor.
Haigh is the thinking readers cricket book writer. It has always been my goal to complete one of his books without having to refer to my pocket Macquarie (dictionary). 30 pages in and I thought this would be a first, however by the end I required my pocket Macquarie 14 times, and his big brother on two occasions.
Thankfully it is not just his fondness for using sesquipedalian (I am sure the author will know that whoppers meaning!) words that will keep you on your toes, but also his insights into just about everything of interest. I say everything, the only thing I was interested in hearing but that was not covered was Haigh's opinion about the booing of Ponting at the Oval when he dared to suggest that Australia overall had the better of the series. Although Haigh does point this out, and with the Australians scoring eight centuries to two and having three bowlers claiming 20 wickets to the home teams zero, it seems a fair point.
Ponting and his harsh treatment at the hands of the crowd is interestingly explored throughout the book, as is the treatment of Ponting's team by the umpires, with Haigh suggesting the Aussies were on the receiving end of the worst umpiring errors. He saves his most vehement criticism for the South African umpire Rudi Koertzen.
The book itself is written in a 'live' format in that the book is mostly the authors words as written at the time and not edited with hindsight. It is this immediate writing that demonstrates just what a fluctuating series this was, with Haigh no sooner disparaging a players performance, only for the player to come out and perform outstandingly in the next Test match.
The author also advocates the need for a Test championship, to help compete with the rise and potential dominance of 20/twenty.
Another fine effort, from the best current cricket writer, don't miss this one. Four stars from the Mac