The Cricket Publishing CompanyMartin Chandler |
It is now all but forty years since Ronald Cardwell* wrote and published what remains the only book devoted to the Australian Imperial Forces team that toured England in the first summer after the Great War. After four months in England the team moved on to South Africa and, finally, defeated New South Wales and Victoria and having much the better of a draw with Queensland on their return to Australia in January 1920. The book had a long gestation period, some six years, during which Cardwell took the opportunity to spend time with the five survivors of the main party of fourteen. By the time the book was published only two were still with us, ‘Allie’ Lampard and ‘Nip’ Pellew. The book, with its distinctive maroon card covers embossed with the AIF badge in gilt was published in a numbered and signed limited edition of 200 copies. The AIF Cricket Team sold out long ago, and is now a scarce collectors’ item.
The first time a book was stated to have been published by the Cricket Publishing Company was four years later, this time a collaboration between Cardwell and Thomas Hodgson. A Cameo From The Past – The Life and Times of HSTL Hendry was a biography of the man who, at the time, was the senior Australian Test cricketer. The 325 card covered copies, very similar in appearance to the AIF book save in dark green covers, were individually numbered and signed by Hendry and by ‘Tiger’ O’Reilly, who contributed a foreword. Again the book soon sold out and copies only occasionally appear on the second hand market.
In 1988 Cardwell’s third publication was a slim 56 page paperback entitled The MCC Tour to Australia 1903/04. This was the first series where the name ‘The Ashes’ came into vogue and a book by England skipper ‘Plum’ Warner faithfully described the successful tour in detail. Cardwell’s booklet was not therefore intended to be a tour account as such. It contains a summary of the Tests in words and figures but its main purpose was to showcase a selection of photographs that Cardwell had purchased at auction. It was produced in a numbered limited edition of 287 copies, signed by Cardwell and O’Reilly. Again it is something that sold out years ago and again copies are seldom seen on the market, although when they do appear the prices are not so high as for the AIF and Hendry books.
In the early 1990s Stephen Gibbs’ monumental Post Padwick tells me that Cardwell produced a couple of small publications privately and are, thus, his only publications I am aware of that do not bear the Cricket Publishing Company imprint. They should however be mentioned for completeness, even though I have never seen a copy of either. The first was on the subject of the evolution of Australian cricket literature and the other on the development of cricket after the Great War.
In 1996 another booklet titled A Cameo From The Past appeared, this time with the sub-title WA Brown (NSW, Qld, Australia). Written by Cardwell the sixteen page monograph was published in a signed and numbered limited edition of 100, and a further 100 copies two years later in 1998. In addition to author Cardwell the booklets were also signed by Brown himself. Long out of print copies rarely appear for sale.
Also published in 1996 was a limited edition comprising a small collection of the work of Ray Robinson, a fine writer who is clearly a great favourite of Cardwell’s. Robinson was an occasional contributor to the Journal of the Australian Cricket Society and Between Branches comprised a selection of those articles. It ran to 64 pages and was signed by Cardwell, as Editor, and Test cricketers Brian Booth, Gordon Rorke and David Sincock as well as writer Kersi Meher-Homji. Oddly the booklet was still available relatively recently – perhaps a limited edition of 300 was a little too many?
Two small format limited editions appeared from CPC in 1999. The two booklets had much in common and both are scarce and long out of print. The most striking similarity is the number 112, unsurprisingly the number of copies of each publication. The Fitzroy Urchin contained an essay by Neil Harvey on the subject of his debut Test century of 112, followed by a summary of the man written by Cardwell. Booth’s Big Match is similar, dealing with Brian Booth’s first Test century, fourteen years after Harvey’s but also 112. Both booklets have 24 pages and are signed by both subjects.
The dawn of the new century saw what I believe was the first book from the CPC that was not a limited edition. The writer was Philip Derriman and the subject clear from the title; The Life and Artistry of Don Tallon. The book is not a bulky biography, and it made up of only 58 pages, but it is a fascinating look at the life of one of the very best wicketkeepers the game has seen.
The following year saw the CPC publish Max Bonnell’s first book, Currency Lads. The book contains biographies of four of Australia’s earliest Test cricketers. Tom Garrett was an all-rounder who played in 19 of his country’s first 27 Tests and Sammy Jones played alongside him a dozen times. The other two men profiled, Reginald Allen and Roland Pope played once each. A full length book Currency Lads appeared in a standard soft back edition as well as a leather bound limited edition of 200, signed by Bonnell and Bill Brown, who contributed a foreword.
Also appearing in 2001 was another interesting small format limited edition. A new edition of Arthur Mailey’s 1958 autobiography, 10-66 And All That, was published and the CPC booklet was a reprint of a single chapter from the book, Opposing My Hero. It is the story of a meeting in a Grade match between Mailey and Victor Trumper. There were only fifty numbered copies of the reprint, signed by Richie Benaud and Mailey’s son. The only copy I have ever seen available is one that, thankfully, I decided to buy – this is a rare one.
In 2003 the CPC returned to the successful Booth/Harvey formula with Morris’s Dilemma, a 34 page essay by Cardwell on the subject of Arthur Morris’s first century at first grade level. In 1939 the 17 year old scored 115 for St George against the University of Sydney. There are no prizes for guessing the number of the limitation of an edition signed by Morris and Cardwell.
The following year the format was similar, although the 29 page Hints To Umpires 1871, a limited edition of 133 copies, is still available. It is the reprint of a short essay on umpiring that appeared back in 1871, accompanied by short pen portraits from Cardwell of a number prominent Australian umpires whose signatures are included, as are loose photographs of the five.
There was another reprint of an ancient piece of writing a year later in A Cricket Match on the Diggers in the Olden Days. The match concerned took place in 1826, and the description of it that the CPC published had first appeared in 1881. There were just twenty pages to the booklet which appeared in a numbered limited edition of 65 copies, each signed by Cardwell. It too is still available as is 2006’s It Started With An Autograph. This one consists of an explanation of Cardwell’s introduction to a sport in which he describes himself as having a passing interest. There are 150 copies, signed by Cardwell and eleven others, including Test cricketers Booth, Dave Renneberg, Brian Taber and Doug Walters.
Another 2006 release was The Fifty Best Australian Cricket Books Of All Time. This one is certainly no longer available and, although I have seen copies occasionally, am certainly glad I got mine when I did as it is now expensive. Bibliography has always been a popular subject and no doubt the short print run, just sixty numbered copies signed by Cardwell and book dealer Roger Page is what has brought about the scarcity. The Mac’s none too positive review clearly hasn’t adversely affected demand.
Into 2007 and the CPC published Cardwell’s James Lillywhite’s XI In Goulburn 1876, a reconstruction of a match that took place in his home town three months before the first ever Test match. The match was between 22 locals and Lillywhite’s side and the edition is limited to 111 copies, one for each run that the 22 managed in their two innings. The booklet runs to 32 pages and is signed by Cardwell and two other men born in Goulburn who have played for New South Wales, Trevor Bayliss and Rob Jeffery. It is still available.
Back in 1993 former Australian off spinner turned writer Ashley Mallett published a biography of the great leg spinner Clarrie Grimmett, a book reviewed very positively by Swaranjit here. I never read that, but did read what amounted to a second edition that was published by the CPC in 2008. Scarlet is certainly a fine book and for anyone wanting to read a standard edition it is still available. Long sold out however is a limited edition of 48 copies, superbly bound in quarter leather with a DVD of Grimmett’s home movies taken during his two tours of England in 1930 and 1934. The limited edition is also signed by each of Mallett, Don Beard, Shane Warne, Richie Benaud, Ian Healy, Arthur Morris and Clarrie’s only son Vic. It was a book that was costly for the brief period it was available, and has doubtless appreciated in value since.
Also published by the CPC in 2008 was The Baggy Green – The Pride, Passion and History of Australia’s Sporting Icon. This was a collaboration between memorabilia expert Michael Fahey and cricket writer Mike Coward. The title is self explanatory and the result a well illustrated and very nicely produced hardback. I have a recollection that at the time a lavish limited edition was mooted but if my memory on that is correct, and it may not be, then I don’t believe it ever appeared. A rather slimmer pamphlet that appeared in 2008 was David Jenkins’ Ken Eastwood – A Life in Cricket, reviewed by the Mac here. A signed limited of 150 numbered copies it is, like the Fahey/Coward, out of print. Even more limited was The Pupil Meets The Master by Cardwell. The fifty copies (ten leather bound) was a monograph on the subject of Kiwi Historian and rugby writer Spiro Zavos and his sole outing in First Class cricket.
Although we didn’t review The Baggy Green by 2008 our review section was becoming established and since then we have had the pleasure of looking at most of CPC’s output so what follows will be an increasing number of links to other pages on the site. In 2009 for example there were two books. The first was Near Death on the Sub-Continent, a biography of Gavin Stevens by David Jenkins, followed by a rather different sort of book, On Tour With Brian Booth by Cardwell. The latter is still available but the anyone wanting to read the excellent Stevens book will need to scour the second hand market.
New books have, in relative terms, come thick and fast in the present decade. 2010 saw two new publications the first of which, Tugga – The Steve Waugh Story by Morris Booth** sounds suspiciously like a mainstream title. In fact it isn’t and is something of an oddity. It is only 32 pages and, extensively illustrated. It looks at Waugh’s career at its outset and was aimed primarily at fostering interest in the game amongst children and the proceeds of the book were passed to the SCG museum. The other CPC book of 2010 was a centenary celebration of the St George club by Coward, which is still available.
There were as many as four books in 2011. Three are still available of which one, a history of the Mosman club remains available in a standard edition. John Hiscox’s labour of love also appeared as a limited edition, and that one has sold out. Also still available is Cricket, Quirky Cricket from the pen of Kersi Meher-Homji. It is a 98 page paperback containing a selection of the many unusual stories that Meher-Homji has collected over the years. The last of those 2011 titles is still available and is Stephen Walters’ The World on Tour. This one is a splendid coffee table type production which gathers together accounts of the Test standard sides who have banded together other than as Test nations. It is a superbly illustrated and important piece of work.
Also produced in 2011 was a slim paperback by Cardwell and Irene McKibbin, entitled Bradman At Blackheath, an account of a remarkable Bradman innings in a club match. The book, now out of print, is signed by both authors.
Two collectors’ items appeared in 2012, one from Mallett, The Catch That Broke The Bank and one from Cardwell’s pen, Charlie Macartney in Otago. Both are slim works, the Mallett a leatherbound 14 pages and the Cardwell 30. The latter, as its title suggests, covers time spent by the Governor-General in Otago in 1909 and the 72 numbered copies (some still available) are signed by Cardwell and Glenn Turner. The Mallett book tells the story of Alexander Crooks, who played for 22 of South Australia against WG Grace’s XI in 1874. Crooks was responsible for the catch which dismissed WG in the first innings, and subsequent discoveries of criminal activity in his employment with a local bank give the book its title. There are fifty signed copies, all sold.
Finally in 2012 the CPC published Shock Selection by John Mason. This was not a limited edition nor a piece of new research and for that reason is a little unusual. What Mason does is, so far as is practical, give his own answer to one of those frequent talking points amongst cricket tragics, the best team that can be selected from those whose surnames begin with the letter A, B and so on and so forth. The book is out of print so clearly proved popular.
Four more books appeared in 2013. A particular favourite of this writer is David Parsons’ The New Zealand Tour of England 1973. That one is still available as is a collection of pieces from David Ongley’s dongles blog, Cricket in Cyberspace, as indeed is The Team That Never Played, a collaboration between Cardwell and New Zealander Bill Francis. The background of the book is the sinking of the Wahine in 1968. As many as 51 of the passengers on the ship lost their lives. Travelling to a tournament with them was the Otago University cricket team. They never arrived of course, but all survived to tell their tale, and to each sign one of the 45 copies of a very attractive leather bound limited edition. That sold out quickly, but the standard edition remains available. The 2013 book that is out of print is No Dazzling Deeds With Bat or Ball – A Centenary History of the NSWCUASA 1913-2013 by Cardwell and Jenkins.
In addition to the books referred to in the preceding paragraph something else appeared bearing the Cricket Publishing Company imprint in 2013, Volume One of Between Wickets, a ‘serious’ journal aimed primarily at the committed devotee of the game’s history. Altogether there have been seven issues of Between Wickets to date. Despite the fact that it is now two years since the last my enquiries nonetheless indicate that the journal is alive and well and that it is hoped the eighth incarnation will appear very soon.
Of the four titles that appeared in 2014 all remain in print save for the ‘special’ edition of Marrickville’s Greatest Day – The Final Match. I use the word ‘special’ because there were only 153 copies printed, and some are still available, but the 23 hardbacks signed by two survivors of the match sold out soon after publication. The book, written by Cardwell, Lawrence Daly and Lyall Gardner concerns the final game of the 1943/44 Sydney first grade competition when, for the first time, Marrickville won the championship with a narrow victory over St George.
The other 2014 publications included two biographies, the first by Francis of Sidney Smith, Cricket’s Mystery Man, that we reviewed here. The other was another Cardwell/Jenkins collaboration, It’s Not About Me – The Brian Taber Story. Both were paperbacks and remain in print. A leather bound and multi-signed edition of the Taber book did not, sadly, appear. The remaining 2014 publications were an impressive piece of research, Rob Franks’ Kiwi Cricketers Along The Nile, a book that concerns the game as it was played in Egypt during World War Two, with a particular focus on New Zealanders involved. It runs to 103 pages and, like Booth to Bat and The New Zealand Tour of England 1973 is in a landscape format, which might give some the odd headache as to how best to display/store it.
There were four more titles in 2015, all still in print. We have reviewed all of them. There are two biographies, Greg Growden’s book on Claude Tozer, Bowled by a Bullet, and Jenkins’ Man for all Seasons, a life of Eric Freeman. We also reviewed a collection of writings edited together by Cardwell, The Life and times of the Immortal Victor Trumper. That leaves just one 2015 publication, Substitute Players For England cricket Teams in Australia Since 1861-62 by Alfred James. A 30 page booklet it is one of those publications that once begun has to be read from start to finish. I have to say I am slightly surprised that, the edition being limited to sixty signed copies, it is still available. I cannot imagine that the ten hardbacks, also signed by Gus Fraser, did not sell out long ago.
In 2016 there were as many as seven CPC publications, albeit two of them under a new imprint, The Cricket Press Pty Ltd. Those two both concerned Trumper. One was Victor Trumper at Trumper Park by James Cattlin. To go slightly out of sequence two very similar titles by Cattlin appeared in 2017 and 2018 on the subjects of Chatswood Oval and Redfern Oval respectively, the latter being reviewed by The Mac here. As far as the CPC publications were concerned two of these are books we have already reviewed, Bill Francis’ biography of Barry Sinclair and one by Alfred James of Charles Bannerman. Like the Trumper books both remain in print, although the Bannerman can now only be purchased from Roger Page. The final publication of 2016 was a collaboration between Cardwell and Paul Stephenson; On Tour With The Australian Schoolboy’s Cricket Club, a 32 page paperback with an autograph sheet with the signatures of the tourists.
In addition there were two other small publications in 2016 by way of tributes, firstly to veteran writer Mike Coward and secondly, to bookseller Roger Page. At the point at which I am typing this I cannot lay my hands on the tribute that Cardwell and James wrote for Roger, so I cannot embarrass him by disclosing his age, but shall we say he is a man with much knowledge and experience of cricket literature (and indeed an occasional publisher himself). As for Coward the tribute was to mark his seventieth birthday, and there are that many leather bound copies of Jenkins’ 26 page tribute.
After the record output of 2016 there was a slight drop in output the following year, but there were still seven new titles. We have reviewed Harry Graham – The Little Dasher, A Singular Man – Bevan Congdon, The Skipper’s Diary, The Kid From Coraki and Cricket in Verse, and I have already mentioned Cattlin’s booklet concerning Trumper and the Chatswood Oval. Finally, and again on the subject of the great stylist, is What They Said About Victor Trumper. All of the books, except the leather bound version of the Harry Graham are still available.
There was something of a lull in 2018 with only two releases. Firstly Stephen Walters was the author of A Forgotten Adventure. The book is an account of the Australians’ visit to New Zealand in 1945/46 during which the first ever Test between the two countries (and the last for nearly thirty years) was played. In their first innings New Zealand were dismissed for 42, and to reflect that in addition to a standard paperback there was a leather-bound limited edition of 42 copies signed by Walters, five descendants of the participants and Jack D’Arcy, who was to play five Tests for New Zealand in England in 1958. The second was Boys, Briars and a Continuing Sporting Tradition by Cardwell, a history of the Briars club from Sydney.
So far in 2019 there have been three new books. The first was From Bradman to Kohli by Kersi Meher-Homji, a history of Test match cricket between India and Australia. The last few weeks have seen the publication of Touring With Bradman, David Frith’s book showcasing Alec Hurwood’s diary from the 1930 Ashes series and Cardwell’s The Tied Test in Madras.
What is yet to come from the CPC this year? As regular readers of my six monthly articles will know many releases have been mooted in recent years, all of which it is hoped will arrive with us at some point but the next ‘cab off the rank’ is likely to be a biography of Ted Badcock, an all-rounder who played in seven of New Zealand’s first eight home Tests. That should be followed by biographies of D’Arcy, he of the 1958 New Zealanders and another New Zealander, Stewie Dempster, the latter written by Bill Francis. Also due is the next book about Victor Trumper and an individual venues, this time Crown Street School, on this occasion Messrs Cardwell and Cattlin sharing the writing duties.
And then it will be 2020.……………..
* Lest there be any doubt Ronald is a lawyer turned accountant who now specialises in insolvency and forensic work. Cricket research, writing and publishing are pastimes that can sadly therefore only occupy his free time.
**I understand this is a nom de plume of Mr Cardwell himself, chosen as a nod in the direction of Arthur Morris and Brian Booth.