New Books – An Overview for January 2022Martin Chandler |
As 2021 passes, largely unloved, into the past, 2022 once again holds a good deal of promise for those of us who enjoy cricket literature. I am guessing that publishing it is getting less and less profitable, cricket related activity amongst the larger publishers being, it would seem, virtually nil. At the same time there is obviously some money to be made as there are a few smaller publishers around, and plenty of writers who are happy for their work to be produced on what can only be described as a ‘non-commercial’ basis.
In many ways the biggest player in the market now, certainly in the UK but increasingly overseas as well, is Pitch. The majority of this specialist sporting publisher’s output is and generally has been on the subject of soccer, but they still have as many as seven new cricketing titles due in the early months of this year, and in addition are publishing Mihir Bose’s history of Indian cricket, The Nine Waves, in the UK.
The first of Pitch’s books is scheduled for March and seems to be an autobiography from journalist Michéle Savidge. For this one I will take the easy way out and quote the publisher; As a 12-year-old, Michéle saw Viv Richards bat and fell in love with Richards and West Indies cricket. She set her sights on becoming, and duly became, a cricket journalist. Births, life, bereavement and depression took her away from the sport she loved, but the 2019 Cricket World Cup rekindled her passion for life – and cricket.
Next up is It’s Raining Bats and Pads by Jamie Magill, a book whose subject matter is one I thoroughly approve of, Lancashire cricket. This one is a history, of which there have already been several already, but in this case Magill covers just the seven years between 1989 and 1996. After the doldrums of the 1980s it was a welcome return to the top of the game for the Red Rose, if not quite with the glamour of Jack Bond’s side, twenty years earlier.
Experienced biographer Christopher Sandford has written the lives of several well known cricketers, Tom Graveney, Godfrey Evans, Imran Khan and John Murray amongst them. This time his title is self explanatory, Laker and Lock. Both of these great Surrey spin bowlers, who forged their reputations in the 1950s, have been the subject of previous books. Laker wrote two autobiographies, and has been the subject of as many as three biographies. For Lock those numbers are one and two. Looking at the two very dissimilar characters together will, hopefully, be an interesting exercise.
David Potter will be the next author published by Pitch next year, a man who is an expert in matters Scottish choosing as his subject the South African tour of England in 1960. The series, won comfortably by England 3-0 despite some excellent bowling from Neil Adcock, was not particularly notable in itself, but the controversial no balling of paceman Geoff Griffin in an exhibition match and the at long last burgeoning opposition to apartheid marks out the trip as an interesting one and The Troubled Tour should be a decent read.
There was a time when cricketers who had spent 17 summers with a county were not that unusual. In the 21st century however that is a remarkable achievement and one man who has reached the milestone, Worcestershire’s Daryl Mitchell, goes into print next April. Those years as an opening batsman who must have come very close to an England cap an a number of occasions as well as four as Chairman of the Professional Cricketers Association should make for an engrossing story. The title is Once a Pear ….
Also due from Pitch in April is The Life and Death of Andy Ducat, a long overdue biography of a man who played cricket and soccer for England and who, at age 56 in a wartime match at Lord’s in 1942, died at the crease from a heart attack. The book is certainly a departure for author Jonathan Northall, whose last book was a retrospective account of the 1992 World Cup, Ruling The World.
The final Pitch title pencilled in for the first half of 2022 is Elephant in the Stadium by Arunabha Sengupta. Sub-titled The Myth and Magic of India’s Epochal Win while covering the cricket of the tour in detail, the book discusses the many reasons for the myth and magic that still surround the triumph including complex historical relationships between India and Britain, and the explosive geopolitical situation of the day. It argues why 1971 series will always be epic, magical and somewhat beyond scorecards.
We will not be seeing so many titles from Fairfield Books as from Pitch, but hopefully there will be something to follow their two splendid recent releases from David Woodhouse and Scyld Berry. I am assured that further books are planned, including one on the subject of Sir Geoffrey Boycott.
An important title that will be appearing in nine day’s time is Duncan Stone’s Different Class, a very different type of history of the game. A review copy arrived at CricketWeb Towers several weeks ago now and the review will appear next Sunday. A book that was always going to be an interesting one is all the more important now in light of the revelations that have recently emerged from Yorkshire and Essex. For the benefit of those of us who did not previously appreciate exactly what was going on Stone puts what has occurred fully, and worryingly, in its proper context.
Russell Holden’s Cricket and Contemporary Society in Britain: Crisis and Continuity certainly sounds as if it may be as important as Different Class. It is a book that starts with the game in this country reaching a low point in 1999 before scaling the heights in that remarkable summer of 2005 when, in the full glare of a ‘free to air’ television audience, Michael Vaughan’s merry men kept the nation spellbound. If 1999 were a nadir and 2005 a zenith what has happened since is certainly backsliding and is the focus of Holden’s book, the only real drawback being that the book comes from the same publisher as that of Megan Ponsford, of which see below.
For those more interested in conventional histories there have been two books published in recent months that will be of interest. Richard Thorn’s When Cricket and Politics Collided is an examination of the issues created by series against South Africa which did not happen in 1969/69 and 1970, and the England tour of Pakistan and the series of ‘Test’ matches against the Rest of the World that replaced them. The second is Adrian Gault’s book which publishes England bowler James Southerton’s account of the 1876/77 tour of Australia which included what are now recognised as the first two Test matches.
Last year John Broom published the excellent Cricket in the Second World War: The Grim Test, a history of the game through the years of the conflict. The natural prequel to that one will appear next March, Cricket in the First World War: Play Up! Play the Game.
A welcome appearance in the list of books to be published is The 1935 Australian Cricket Tour of India: Breaking Down Social and Racial Barriers by Megan Ponsford, granddaughter of the legendary Bill. The only problem with the book is, being from an academic publisher, it has a price tag to match. It is unfortunate that, given the number of readers of last year’s biography of Frank Tarrant who would doubtless otherwise be interested in the book, that publishers Routledge are not minded to take a more realistic view when pricing a book which is currently listed on their website at £96, and that after applying a presumably temporary end of year sale discount of 20%.
The ACS are also planning new books for 2022 being in February. The first is their International Cricket Year Book 2022 (Editor Philip Bailey) which appears for the 38th time. It is the only annual giving details of every current cricketer appearing in First Class, List A or Twenty20 cricket throughout the world. It covers the English summer and the preceding season in other countries. Women taking part in international matches are also included.
Also due out in February is the 2022 First-Class Counties Second Eleven Annual (Editor Paul Parkinson) which provides details of the counties’ Second Eleven Championship and limited overs competitions. It contains biographical details about all cricketers involved in these matches, potted scores for all matches, comprehensive averages, statistical highlights and records. As there was no 2021 annual, this annual also includes information about the truncated 2020 season
On the theme of cricket a level below the First Class game there is also A History of the Minor Counties Championship 1895-1914 (Editor Julian Lawton Smith). Following completion of an annual series of publications on the Minor Counties Championship between 1895 and 1914, this book will provide a history of the competition over the whole of this period. Among other things, it will trace the evolution of the competition, provide comprehensive competition records, an historical overview of each county, and an A to Z of career records of players.
Finally in February from the ACS comes the next book in the Lives in Cricket series, this one being the first contribution to the series by noted journalist, broadcaster and historian Andrew Radd. George Thompson: A Very Useful Man tells the story of the all-rounder who was a mainstay of the Northamptonshire county team in its minor county and early First Class days. To this day only one other bowler has taken more than his 1078 first-class wickets for the county.
May will see Jeremy Lonsdale’s fourth book on periods in the history of Yorkshire cricket. A Game Emerging: Yorkshire cricket before the coming of the All England Eleven looks at pre-Victorian cricket in the county against the background of significant changes in English society and leisure and then uses available evidence to examine the slow spread of the game in different pockets in the county up to the 1820s. Jeremy goes on to highlight the rapid development of the much more commercialised game in Sheffield in the 1820s, and to demonstrate how the game became a noticeable part of many aspects of Yorkshire life.
And finally, for the statistically minded he tenth volume in the series of Hard to Get scores contains scorecards of the matches played in Pakistan in the period from 1987/88 to 1989/90, a large number of which are not readily available elsewhere. It also includes a brief narrative for each season and tables for each first-class competition. The title is First-Class Matches : Pakistan 1987/88 – 1989/90 and the editor John Bryant.
Red Rose Books have had a productive end to 2021 with a splendid biography of Les Poidevin and Gerry Wolstenholme’s An Historic Tie appearing late on, as well as a monograph on the subject of Alex Kermode. In 2022 they will be up and running early with the release of another monograph on JT Tyldesley, proprietor Martin Tebay being responsible for that. His book on Lancashire’s County Championship triumph in 1904 will follow and also due soon is Three Brothers From Brandon, from Stephen Musk and Mike Davage. The siblings concerned are the Rought-Rought brothers, Basil, Desmond and Rodney, a trio of Norfolcian First Class cricketers.
Our other Lancashire orientated small publisher is Max Books, who have recently published Cardus in an Australian Light and 1000 Wins Not Enough, a booklet by Ken Grime celebrating Lancashire’s 1,000th Championship victory, a remarkable win over Hampshire at Aigburth last September which, almost but not quite, brought the Championship back to the Red Rose. Next year one title is confirmed, Lords of Mischief: Clown Cricket and Dan Leno. The idea of clown cricket, all but forgotten today, was popular for about twenty years in Victorian times and then enjoyed a brief comeback in the Edwardian era. The author is the renowned cricket and social historian Eric Midwinter.
Of the books I mentioned in July from CricketMASH two have not appeared yet, but never fear as both are still on their way. Arunabha Sengupta and Maha’s history of the Ashes in graphic novel format has been deferred by a few weeks to cover the current series and Gerald Marson’s novel has also had to be delayed and may not now be titled The Cricket Bookseller, but I am assured it is still on its way. One other title expected, around March, is a biography of the Australian captain of the Golden Age, Harry Trott, by Pradip Dhole.
CricketWeb favourite David Battersby was planning to have two new titles for us in the early months of 2022. The bad news is that that is now reduced to one, and the good that the reason for that is that he was able to publish the other one just before Christmas, and an excellent booklet The Pakistan Eaglets Tours of the UK in the 1950s; Additional Findings and Reflections is.
The follow up will also concern the Eaglets, and will conclude their story. Pakistan Eaglets in the 1960s will deal with the tour of Malaya and Ceylon in 1960/61 and the final trip, back to England in 1963. This title will include some rare photographs and contributions from surviving Eaglets from conversations between them and the Pakistan Cricket Museum Curator Najum Latif, who also contributes a foreword and a chapter on the Eaglets founder, Judge Cornelius. Again it will be limited to 120 copies of which the first 60 will include a limited signed card by an Eaglet.
There are a couple of new books due from Boundary Books. Mike Down’s appreciation of David Rayvern Allen is almost ready but, before that, something I can only describe at the moment as a very special pair of books will be available shortly. Unfortunately I am sworn to secrecy at the moment, and can do no more than recommend subscribing to Mike’s e-alerts by emailing him at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Sussex will be celebrating 150 years at the County Ground at Hove in 2022 and the Sussex Museum are publishing two books to mark that anniversary. The first, in collaboration with Von Krumm Publishing, will be a history of those 150 years penned by Patrick Ferriday and James Mettyear and will appear, as one would expect, as a leather bound limited edition of 150 copies as well as a standard hardback. A little later on and a book of stories and anecdotes is due from long standing Sussex supporter and writer Norman Epps.
On a slightly less ambitious scale another pamphlet on the subject of the county’s promising 18 year old batsman Daniel Ibrahim is due to appear and, if it does and you stretch the definition as far as it will go, he will surely be the first cricketer to have been the subject of two biographical works before his 19th birthday, On a more local level the Museum are teaming up with local historian David Boorman to publish four books on the history of the game in North Sussex, beginning in July with cricket at Knepp Castle.
Whilst in Sussex, although not published by the Museum this time, is a new book by historian Roger Packham on the subject of Nicholas Wanostrocht, also and probably better known as Felix, one of the top players of the 1830s and 1840s. The book will, I believe, be available via bookdealer John McKenzie.
Moving to the southern hemisphere Ken Piesse has two books due although the first of them, by renowned historian Ric Sissons, may already have appeared. A 32 paged booklet in a limited edition of 100 copies the subject matter of The Albert Cricket Ground: Sydney’s Forgotten Oval is clear from its title.
A more substantial tome is due from the pen of Ken himself in a few weeks time, Fifteen Minutes of Fame, a 300 pager looking at the stories of 70 Australians who have played but a single Test. In addition to a standard hardback the book will also appear in a limited edition of 70 numbered copies, in a slip case and signed by Ken and David Frith, who contributes the book’s foreword.
Turning to the Cricket Publishing Company they have, as always, a number of projects ongoing several of which will hopefully see the light of day in the first half of 2022. The first off the press will be an updated history of the Australian I Zingari club by Geoff Lovell which will, hopefully, be followed in short order by Rob Franks’ biography of Bert Kortlang.
The long awaited autobiography of New Zealander Jack D’Arcy will hopefully appear in May, and the latest collaboration between Ronald Cardwell and the man I hope is his protege, Nathan Anderson, is also pencilled in for May, a biography of Harry Donnan, a New South Welshman who played five for Australia in the 1890s.
More good news is that the estimable Between Wickets journal should appear for the ninth time early next year. What will certainly continue is the excellent Cricketers in Print series. We have already had Rodney Cavalier on Lindsay Kline and Nathan Anderson on Brian Booth, and the late Ashley Mallett on Les Favell is, I hope, already en route to my letterbox. The next two of a number of works in progress will be Greg Manning on Jack Walsh and Lyall Gardner on Mike Whitney.
Remaining in Australia the long awaited biography of Vic Richardson by John Lysikatos has, I believe, just been released. A book from Australia that I missed last time was John Fryer’s follow up to his book from last year on WG Grace, Victor Trumper, My Brother. On a more serious note historian Alfred James has just published a limited edition book on two men who enjoyed immensely long careers in Sydney Grade cricket, Ted Cox and Ray Allum. Neither played First Class cricket but, on the basis that if James believes they are worth writing about then they must also be worth reading about, I have invested in a copy which, as I type this piece, is currently en route to the UK.
And what of India? Last time I did mention Believe; What Life and Cricket Taught Me, an autobiography by Suresh Raina, but not Mission Domination: An Unfinished Quest, both of which are well worth investing in. I also overlooked last year’s anthology on the subject of the great left arm spinner, Bishan Singh Bedi, The Sardar of Spin, published to coincide with his 75th birthday. I have previously referenced the Gulu Ezekiel edited My Cricket Hero but, irritatingly, it appeared initially as an ebook. I am pleased to note however that it is about to be released in print. The book comprises a dozen essays by different writers on a number of cricketers most of whom deserve to have had more written about them than has been the case hitherto. One of those featured is 1960s legend ML Jaisimha, an essay by PR Man Singh, and I see that a collection of essays on him, I Adore Jai: The Rediscovery of ML Jaisimha, was published in October.
Scotland is not yet a Test playing country, but Richard Miller’s efforts to republish important writings on the history of the game there continue to gather pace. His current estimate is that there will be a total of around thirty books and booklets, although my own view is that he won’t stop there, but instead will just look harder. His most ambitious project so far, a 300 page tome that makes available Walter Sievright’s History of Cricket in Perth from 1812 to 1894 with sketches of local players, a book which does exist but which has not previously been published as such. In addition to that he anticipates the first half of the year will see him republish A History of Cricket in Fraserburgh (1912), The Selkirk Cricket Club Bazaar (1900), The Cricketing Reminiscences of James Barlas – A Rambling Retrospect (1926), The Reminiscences of R W Sievwright (1931) and A History of Arbroath United (1956).
And what of rumour and tittle tattle? I have heard much in the way of such things, but am reasonably confident that books are well advanced on subjects like Sir Frank Worrell, South Africa’s tour of Australia in 1910/11, Monty Noble, the Oval Test of 1882, Bart King, Ray Robinson (the player rather than the writer), Frank Hayes, the two tours of Australia by English teams in 1887/88, early Somerset cricketers and on one of the most spectacular collections of cricket memorabilia there is, and the man who put it together, a true polymath. Oh and two blokes named Bradman and Trumper, but then again what year would be complete without new books on those two?
Schedued, I believe, for the second half of the year is another from Pitch Publishing. Andrew Sproul and I have collaborated on Black Swan Summer, which tells the story of the 1947-48 Australian season. The focus is on Western Australia’s first Sheffield Shield season (and improbable victory) but it’s scope is much broader than that – the book places the cricket in the context of Australian society and politics at the time, showing how each interacted with the other. We look at the first Indian tour of Australia, and at how the visitors coped with the White Australia policy. It’s about cricket, sure, but also about aviation and communism and murder and chocolate. We had the pleasure of speaking at length to three players from that season (Neil Harvey, Ken Archer and Basil Rigg of WA), and their recollections help to bring that distant season to life. It’s informative, challenging and a lot of fun. Look our for it!
Comment by Max Bonnell | 9:35am GMT 2 January 2022