The Life and Times of the Immortal Victor Trumper

Published: 2015
Pages: 244
Author: Cardwell, Ronald (Editor)
Publisher: The Cricket Publishing Company
Rating: 3.5 stars

Back at the turn of the century most cricket lovers were picking their best XI. Much to the chagrin of many, the esteemed official selectors of the Australian team could find no place for Victor Trumper. At the time former Australian batsmen Dean Jones agreed with the selectors stating he could not possibly select an opener who couldn’t even average 40 in Test cricket. If only Jones had the chance to read The Life and Times of the Immortal Victor Trumper, he may change his mind.

The book brings together the papers from the symposium held at the SCG in 2015 to mark the 100 year anniversary of the death of Trumper. It features some well known cricket luminaries writing on every aspect of the Trumper legend.

Each author is given a specific topic of Trumper’s life/career. Some of the more interesting subjects covered are those away from Trumper’s cricket. The cricket side of things is extremely well documented from everything from Trumper’s efforts as a school boy to his first grade career. There is unavoidably some overlap between writers and I think one of the finest Trumper stories, by Arthur Mailey, is mentioned at least three times. Cardus is also quoted often. This is the only criticism of a fine book, and if you are going to repeat stories than those by Cardus and Mailey on Trumper are excellent choices.

Some of the more obscure topics covered are:

Ronald Cardwell as a successful businessman is eminently qualified to dissect the poor business career of Trumper. Apparently part of the issue was how generous Trumper was. Throughout the book examples are provided of how philanthropic he could be. Variants of stories of how young boys entered Trumper’s sports store with little money and left with a full set of cricket gear are often repeated. Even after his death people were still chasing Trumper for money and only finally desisted once it was known his estate amounted to almost nothing.

Well known author Geoff Armstrong examines where Trumper fits amongst the greats of Australian batsmen. He approaches the task, in part, by looking at the timeless pastime of experts of choosing their all time Australian XIs. The pattern established is not surprising in that selectors favour their contemporaries. Modern all time Australian XIs usually have ten current or recently retired players plus Bradman. Apparently back in the day the practice was the same, but it was Trumper and ten others.

Roger Page delves into the written word on Trumper, and explains that unlike WG Grace the definitive biography on Trumper is still to be written. Page also provides some salient points on the Trumper biography written by Jack Fingleton, and why the ‘Fingo’ effort ultimately disappoints.

I won’t go through all the chapters and authors as at 16 it would take far too much space to cover. I will say that at the end of this book you will know the legend that is Victor Trumper.

As with all this publisher’s works this book is nicely produced on quality paper with numerous illustrations. At the end there is a lovely reproduction of an 1899 brochure with pen portraits of the 1899 team, although the highlight is looking at the old ads; wool socks and riding suits obviously being popular items at the time.

I hope Dean Jones happens to read this fine tribute to the legend of Trumper. If he does then he would be no doubt as to the inclusion of Australia’s greatest ever opener, plus Bradman and nine others in any all time Australian XI.


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