Hugh Trumble A Cricketer's Life
Author: Alf Batchelder
Publisher: Melbourne Cricket Club & Australian Scholarly Publishing
Rating: 4.5 stars
By Archie Mac
22 Mar 2010
'A Cricketer's Life' is so comprehensive a biography of Hugh Trumble that the only way another could ever be needed, would be if they demolished one of the stands at the MCG and found a hidden diary written by the great cricketer.
Alf Batchelder has performed such a thorough job of covering every part of the life of Hugh Trumble, that I found myself trying to find a slip up. However even on the subject of anecdotes, which the mischievous Hugh was credited with more than any other cricketer of his time, I cannot remember the author missing even one.
The author does not just concentrate on his subject; he takes his readers into the backrooms of cricket politics of the times. This involved a new organization, which would eventually become known as CA, and their battle for the control of Australian cricket, with the players and the MCC (Melbourne Cricket Club). The MCC is a big part of the Trumble story as he was the secretary of the club for a large part of his working life.
The one thing I was hoping for the author to shed some light on, was the style Trumble bowled. With writers stating everything from slow off spin to fast medium, and despite a chapter dedicated to his bowling methods in this book, it seems that Trumble varied his style in much the same way as Fred Spofforth, who Trumble played with during his early career.
The author does not often express his opinions, instead quoting extensively from contemporary newspapers. He often quotes the best writers of the period such as Tom Horan, and his selections are always apt making the storytelling much more immediate.
I was unfamiliar with the writings of Alf Batchelder before reading this biography on Hugh Trumble. I will now be keeping an eye out for his next offering, lets hope he keeps writing about the old timers. We have enough books about Sir Donald Bradman, Steve Waugh and Shane Warne, which between the three seem to be the subject of every third new cricket book.
Apart for the very occasional typo and one mention of Joe Darling leading the 1903-04 Australian Test team - he may well have been on his farm in Tasmania by then - the book is surprisingly free of factual errors, which is a rarity for the modern cricket book, especially one of over 500 pages,
although 500 pages is somewhat misleading as the biography is actually produced in two volumes. This is the first time I have seen this since the release of the Bradman Albums, which were mainly reproductions of contemporary newspaper clippings. This is the only two-part biography I can remember, however I am sure Martin Chandler or Roger page will set me straight if there has been a similar release in the past.
The book is released in a limited edition of 200, signed copies. It probably makes little difference, but it was a surprise that they were not numbered. The books do not have dust-jackets; however they do have printed images on the hardback covers. The books also have copious illustrations, many of which will be unfamiliar to most readers.
It is a pity that quality cricket books like this have to be limited to such a short print run, which unfortunately expresses the lack of interest. Instead the masses would much prefer to read yet another biography of a player at the beginning of his international cricket career. Not sure of the answer, but lets hope quality books like 'A Cricketer's Life' keep being produced, I can at least guarantee them one sale.