A Guide to the Memorials of Cricketers

Published: 2018
Pages: 144
Author: Ronayne, Michael
Publisher: ACS
Rating: 3.5 stars

Over the first two decades of this century Philip Paine produced 24 volumes of Innings Complete, booklets that pictured in the main the final resting places of cricketers great and not so great. Primarily he concentrated on gravestones, but there were some memorials as well. In recent years in Australia David Somerville has produced the first two volumes of a similar exercise. I have previous looked at Innings Complete here, and The Mac has reviewed the two Somerville books here and here.

Is such interest in this subject confined to cricket, or do other sports and fields of human endeavour inspire their aficionados to take such care to examine subjects that many might consider ghoulish? I won’t claim to have researched that question extensively, but I have certainly not seen anything similar. The reason in my view is simple enough. Cricketers’ lives are fascinating, and the enduring interest that many of us have in the history of the game and its players creates a desire for the whole story of a man’s life, and not just an account of his deeds on the field.

Sadly author Michael Ronayne is no longer with us. He passed away shortly before the book was published. He was not a professional writer, and spent his working life in education. But he was a lifelong cricket tragic and self published a series of booklets about cricket tours and, primarily, those who made up the touring parties. Those booklets will always stand as an immensely worthwhile contribution to cricket literature. Disappointingly but, I suppose, inevitably the associated website that he maintained for a number of years is no more.

This book features entries for 372 men. Of those 248 are English Test cricketers, and the rest fall into various categories. There are a few Test players from other nations with marked associations to the game in England, such as Ted McDonald and Learie Constantine. A number are men whose careers ended before Test cricket even began, and there are several writers, the likes of John Arlott, EW ‘Jim’ Swanton and ‘Crusoe Robertson-Glasgow. Umpires and administrators are not forgotten either. There is certainly a historical bias in those looked at, but despite that twenty men who died in the 21st century are featured the most recent being, entirely appropriately, Basil D’Oliveira.

In truth very few of Ronayne’s readers are not going to be familiar with all 372 of those featured, so that part of each entry that represents biographical detail is necessarily brief. The main thrust therefore is to explain what memorials there are to the individual concerned and to give directions to the sites identified and, for those interested in further research, details of any books that exist. Not all of the memorials or gravestones are illustrated, but many are, and there are some poignant stories, not least that of George Summers, the Notts batsman who was killed at the crease at Lord’s in 1870.

Are there many people who actually want to visit these cemeteries and other memorial sites, or is it the case that most with an interest in the subject are happy to accept the words and photographs of others? The answer to that one matters not I suppose, because A Guide to the Memorials of Cricketers will satisfy both types of reader so, if the subject matter appeals, this one is certainly recommended and, on this occasion, I am pleased to be able to say that the book remains in print, and is available through the ACS website.

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