Victor Trumper at Redfern Oval

Published: 2018
Pages: 43
Author: Cattlin, James
Publisher: The Cricket Press
Rating: 3.5 stars

There was a time when only the true cricket purist knew the name Victor Trumper, but now, and in no small part due to this publisher, his status as a legend of Australian cricket appears ensured.

Trumper’s hold on modern cricket historians is based almost solely on the writings of Trumper’s contemporaries and one famous photo (there is a cut out pic on the front cover). After all there is practically no footage of Trumper playing cricket and certainly no one alive who could have watched him bat. The writing of those who saw Trumper is evocative, as well as being some of the best cricket writing ever, and is testament to the both the writers’ and subjects skill.

One innings that probably catches Trumper’s artistry and appeal as much as any, is the day at Redfern Oval when he went berserk in a Sydney first grade match.  Opening for Paddington, Trumper thrashed the Redfern bowlers to all parts of the Oval. He had scored 335 off 205 balls out of 3-558, when he was finally dismissed.

One of the famous hits, during the innings, was a straight drive that broke a second story widow in a boot factory. Since that time many questions have been asked about the towering shot. How far did it travel? What happened to the ball and the broken window?

James Cattlin, with some help from cricket historian Ronald Cardwell; statistician Charles Davis and assistance by former Test player Ian Davis, has unravelled answers to the above questions and a few others. Well sort of, after all there is always new information to be discovered about the wonderful game of cricket.

I won’t divulge the answers here as it will ruin the journey of this little book. Suffice to say that Cattlin and his team have gone to a lot of trouble to discover the truth and to debunk a few myths too. The story of what happened to the broken window is an especially interesting one, and ultimately a little sad as it appears to be lost despite last being sighted in 2013. The author also follows up on the press about the broken window and some of the fanciful stories told since.

One thing, and perhaps the only thing not made clear about Trumper’s mighty display in the book, is what happened when a player hit a five (there were no sixes at the time, instead a player was awarded a five for hits over the fence). From Cattlin’s description of the innings it would seem the batsmen swapped ends after each five. This would appear to make the innings scoring rate of Trumper even more impressive as you imagine the regular loss of strike would interrupt his rhythm.

Apart from the window, we learn about Trumper’s other performances on Redfern Oval, and also meet some of the other players involved in the game. A discussion about the type of bats used is also of interest, and the mind boggles at how far Trumper’s window shot may have travelled with a modern bat.

This is a great little book. Well written and researched, it also includes some lovely photos from the period. Highly recommended.


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