Book Reviews

Below are independent reviews for some our recent titles and other books we have been involved with producing.

*Diary of a Cricket Correspondent — the diaries of Brian Bearshaw
*Born In Bolton by Geoff Ogden
*Pavilions In Splendour by Geoff Wellsteed
*Sun, Snow, Strike! by Colin Evans

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DIARY OF A CRICKET CORRESPONDENT
Review by Martin Chandler at cricketweb.net

On the face of it this would appear to be one that is strictly for Lancastrians of a certain age, or at least that was my thinking before I opened it. I am still not convinced that that initial assessment is not the correct one, but having read this slim booklet I can see that it might, perhaps, be of rather broader appeal.

The reason the booklet exists is because Malcolm Lorimer managed to pick up some memorabilia that belonged to the former Manchester Evening News cricket correspondent, the late Brian Bearshaw. Amongst his purchase was a diary that Bearshaw kept in 1964 and 1965 as he began his career with the paper.

The diary is perhaps better termed a notebook, and it is far from comprehensive because in those days Bearshaw was the number two to John Kay, so he only got to cover those games that Kay chose not to attend. But they are an interesting couple of seasons, coinciding with a difficult period for the Red Rose and the first culminated in the dismissal of two established members of the team, Peter Marner and Geoff Clayton.

The booklet begins with an introduction from Lorimer, before moving on to an appreciation of Bearshaw by Colin Evans, a successor of Bearshaw's at the Manchester Evening News and a man whose worked I have reviewed before. Evans produces a fine summary of his former colleague, and a glimpse into the world of the cricket correspondent in the 1960s and 70s.

As for the notes themselves the most surprising aspect of those is that the autocratic Cyril Washbrook, then Lancashire team manager, seems to have been happy to take the cub reporter into his confidence, or perhaps 'Washy' was just using Bearshaw as his mouthpiece?

In any event the notes are of value to anyone with a desire to learn more of this difficult period in Lancashire's history, and are made the more interesting by the context added by Ken Grime's footnotes, which I was delighted to see at the bottom of the page rather than tucked away at the end of the booklet.

The booklet is illustrated, and there are three particularly good photographs reproduced those being the traditional team poses for both summers, and also a more casual image of nine members of the side that appears on the rear cover. The most striking aspect of the team photographs is the appearance of David 'Bumble' Lloyd, who looks very, very young in 1965, and is barely recognisable in that for the previous summer.

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BORN IN BOLTON by Geoff Ogden

As a seven-year-old schoolboy, and a southern-based young Manchester United fan I made a scrapbook, (I still have it), which pictorially recorded the disastrous outcome of the Munich air crash in February 1958. Within three months the dramatically weakened United team played Bolton Wanderers in the FA Cup Final. Nat Lofthouse bundled Harry Gregg over the goal-line and, sadly, the Trotters won 2-0. Thirty-seven years later I was at Wembley to watch Reading, my home town, play Bolton Wanderers in the 1995 First Division Play-Off final. Despite missing a penalty Reading led 2-0 at half-time but by the time the final whistle sounded Bolton had secured a place in the Premier League, winning 4-3. Those two events have led to me having a bit of an ongoing grudge against the Lancashire cotton-town and I reckoned an invitation to review this book might offer a chance for some revenge?

Far from it! Geoff Ogden, for so long a popular member of the Lancashire CCC Committee, has lovingly introduced his readers to 38 Boltonians who have graced the first-class game. His pen pictures reveal of all sorts of snippets that even the most knowledgeable of Lancashire members might not be aware. How many could nominate James Hallows as an addition to the list of more readily known epileptic cricketers? Which Bolton-born cricketer played for South Africa? We learn how Mike Watkinson acquired the nickname of 'Winker' and that Walter Brearley (batting average 5.89) sometimes made his entrance as a batsman by vaulting the pavilion gate, and rushing to the middle often without his gloves. We are reminded that father and son, Brian ("the heavens ring with his almost continuous and loud appealing") and Karl Krikken were both vociferous appealers and that Karl, keeping for Derbyshire, once conceded no byes in a Hampshire match total of 732, and uniquely that twins, Matt and Callum Parkinson dismissed each other (both lbw) when Lancashire played Leicestershire in 2019. Did you know that Dick Barlow (11217 runs and 950 wickets) also referred the 1887 FA Cup Final when Preston North End famously beat Hyde 26-0?

The author selects a squad of his 'best XIII' under the captaincy of Jack Bond. Ten of them played for England. The bowling is exceptionally strong but to put out a balanced side, incredibly, there might not be places for England cricketers Walter Brearley (844 fc wickets) or Dick Pollard (1122). The batting is more modest. The aggregated batting averages of his eleven total 264 (The Reading equivalent is 349).

David Kaye, a well-respected Bolton cricket historian, has contributed a splendid six-page article which describes the long and distinguished cricketing history of the town, and a map identifying over 300 modern and yesteryear Bolton clubs is an additional bonus.
Published by Max Books, this fine 125 page, soft-covered book is a gem. It is an absolute must for followers of Bolton cricket, all Lancashire members and, indeed, all lovers of the Red Rose county.

Geoff Wellsteed
Author of 'Inside the Boundary' (cricketers born in Reading)

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PAVILIONS IN SPLENDOUR by Geoff Wellsteed
The historic county of Cheshire may be the native soil of 14 England cricketers, but in a modern version of Cobbett's Rural Rides of a couple of centuries ago, Geoff Wellsteed has travelled its length and breadth to document in minute detail a more humble level than the Test arena, visiting in person an eye-watering 133 clubs, speaking with officials and members and poring through club histories, records and pavilion memorabilia of all kinds. A more detailed history of Cheshire club cricket would be difficult to imagine.

Few are better qualified than Wellsteed to write about this subject, given his position as Honorary Secretary of the Cheshire County Cricket League and Vice-Chairman of the Cheshire Umpires and Scorers Association, together with his regular umpiring duties around a county which has officially lost areas to Greater Manchester, Merseyside and Derbyshire, although clubs from those parts continue to be within the remit of this book.

Villages and towns with evocative names like Over Peover from the leafy lanes around prosperous Knutsford, or Tintwistle (Tinsel to locals) from that north-eastern part of the traditional county which hints at an industrial past, still boast clubs which continue to survive in the face of economic pressure, counter-attractions and changing family habits.

The writer has, commendably, made lavish use of primary sources, and the results of his indefatigable research are evident in the detailed club histories, where the feats of local cricketing heroes sit side by side with the difficulties, financial and otherwise, experienced by those who have struggled to keep their club afloat whatever the odds.

Indeed, this book is not only a social history of local cricket (and society), but also a tribute to all those players, officials, members and umpires who devote their lives to helping the game flourish at grass-roots level.

Illustrated with colour photographs of each club's pavilion and a miscellany of other pictorial material, this book is, indisputably, the definitive record of club cricket in Cheshire.

Geoff Thomas
Mastermind Champion 2006 and Brain of Britain Winner 2008

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SUN, SNOW, STRIKE by Colin Evans
The 1975 County Championship match at Buxton between Derbyshire and Lancashire is justly one of the most famous in the history of the competition. As well as producing the highest score in the hundred-overs limit (477-5 by Lancashire), and Derbyshire's heaviest defeat since 1898, it of course saw play abandoned on the Monday because of a heavy snowfall, two days after the ground had basked in warm sunshine, and on the verge of one of the hottest summers of recent years.

With the nation gripped by trade union militancy, industrial unrest found its way even into the rather more conservative world of county cricket, with several senior Lancashire players withdrawing their services and being suspended as a result (how do you suspend someone who has refused to play?). While the rift was eventually patched up, the scars remained and the incident is surely one reason why Lancashire, on paper one of the strongest county sides of the 1970s, faded into under-achievement after 1975.

Colin Evans' enjoyable booklet tells the story of the match and its extraordinary background with the aid of cartoons by Bob Bond, interviews with many of the players and an article on the meteorological aspects of the match by Andrew Hignell, as well as a foreword by Geoff Miller.

Richard Lawrence
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