A Snapshot of South American Cricket RivalryMartin Chandler |
Author: Wolstenholme, Gerry
Publisher: Red Rose Books
Rating: 3.5 stars
Later this year, on May 21st to be exact, we will get a full history of cricket in Latin America, courtesy of Tim Abraham and James Coyne. Books on the game in that part of the world are as rare as hen’s teeth, so it is a particularly pleasant duty for me to be able to advise that, thanks to Gerry Wolstenholme, we are getting a taster as well*.
Generally, although not always, Gerry’s sports writing concentrates on matters Lancastrian, and if there is a Blackpudlian element so much the better. But every now and again he stretches his wings a little or, as here, a lot. His mission statement is not to cover more than a tiny amount of the ground that Abraham and Coyne will but, inspired by the acquisition of a couple of albums of old photographs, he was moved to learn more about the events recorded in those albums, and to then share that knowledge with a wider readership.
The book starts with a brief introduction, explaining enough of the background to set the scene, Gerry then moves straight on to the three subjects he wants to cover, those being the visits to Argentina by a Brazilian team in 1921/22 and 1927/28, and the reverse trip of the Argentinians to Brazil in 1922.
The format is straightforward. Gerry looks at the make up of the sides and provides some excellent pen portraits of the combatants, and he goes on to deal with the cricket played on each of the tours with particular emphasis on the three ‘Test’ matches that featured during each of the trips.
I doubt that Abraham and Coyne will come up with a conclusion other than that the interwar period was the ‘Golden Age’ of South American cricket, and the playing standards of those involved in these ‘Tests’ were pretty high, something best illustrated by the fact that in the first of those nine ‘Tests’ as many as seven of the Argentina side had or were to play the First Class game, as well as three of the Brazilians. Against the background of that disparity it is perhaps not surprising that the Argentinians won all three series, but the Brazilians did manage one convincing win, in the last of the nine ‘Tests’.
A number of the players concerned in the matches were South American born, but all were essentially ex-patriates or from British families. None are well known, although many readers will recognise the name of Clem Gibson who, a few days after his twenty first birthday, had taken six Australian second innings wickets in 1921 as AC MacLaren’s scratch side caused that famous sensation by beating Warwick Armstrong’s powerful Australian side who had, prior to that encounter, swept aside all before them.
Meticulously researched and carrying many of the images that inspired its being written A Snapshot of South American Cricket Rivalry is a pleasure to read, and author and publisher are to be congratulated on producing an eminently satisfying and attractive finished product. The book is published in an individually signed and numbered limited edition of one hundred copies of which seventy five have card covers and are available at the modest cost of £10 inclusive of UK postage. The remaining twenty five are hardbacks and, at forty pounds inclusive, rather more of a luxury item. For those in the southern hemisphere copies will be available soon from Roger Page.
*And indeed since penning this review I have learnt of another historian working on a South American project, this time an account of a tour of England in 1932 by a side made up of players from Argentina, Brazil and Chile.