2020 book reviews

Four recently published cricket titles reviewed:
CRICKETING CAESAR by Mark Peel-a biography of Mike Brearley
GUNNER — My Life In Cricket by Ian Gould
THAT WILL BE ENGLAND GONE by Michael Henderson


CRICKETING CAESAR by Mark Peel--a biography of Mike Brearley
At last! — A biography of Mike Brearley who many people consider was one of England's greatest cricket captains. Mark Peel has indeed produced a book worthy of its subject. Brearley held many high offices in cricket — captain of Cambridge University (1963-1964), captain of Middlesex (1971-1982), captain of England (1977-1979 and 1981), chairman of the World Cricket Committee (2011-2017) and President of the MCC (2008).He also has written several books on cricket including The Art of Captaincy, now regarded as the standard text on the subject.

Cricket of course forms only part of Mike Brearley's career. He achieved a first-class degree in Classics and an upper second in moral sciences at Cambridge. When working with the Samaritans he developed his skills to listen and to advise. Later over two winters he took employment as a nursing assistant. Whilst acting in this capacity he attended weekly meetings led by a psychoanalyst which led to his own full-time career in this field.

The salient points in the book are cross referenced to a good appendix listing the sources, but it is disappointing to find there is no index. Also, there is no statistical section detailing Brearley's first class career.

On page 73 Peel states that Brearley was the second Englishman after Jack Robertson to score 300 runs in a day. My book of cricket statistics tells me that before Robertson there were 6 other Englishmen to achieve the feat — two in the same day — Richard Moore (Hampshire) and Eddie Paynter (Lancashire) in 1937.

Virginia Hjelmaa, the first Mrs Brearley gets a brief mention — a difficult marriage.

Nevertheless, despite these minor criticisms Mark Peel has given a very balanced view of his subject. His quarrels with Phil Edmonds are laid out in full, and disagreements with others such as Dennis Amiss, Clive Lloyd and Christopher Martin-Jenkins are well documented. The opinions of Denis Lillee--"I still don't overrate him as a captain and a player"- and others are all gathered in. It is also interesting to read an 'off the cuff' remark by Brearley -"I don't give a stuff about the Press".

I fully recommend this book as one of the best cricket biographies to have been written in recent years.

One last lingering thought in one's mind. If the 'Packer episode' had not occurred would we still think of Mike Brearley in the same way or just dismiss him, like Percy Fender, as the best Cricket captain England never had?
David Young

Pitch Publishing £19.99

There is always the right time to publish a book, at the 50th Anniversary of the controversial Stop the 1970 Cricket Tour by South Africa seems to be an appropriate time. The Black Lives Matter campaign is also apt time to look back at some of the attitudes and the story one of the most controversial times in cricket's long history.

Colin Shindler consulted a number of people in writing the book including Peter Hain, leader of the Stop the Seventy Tour as well as many of the players who took part in the replacement Rest of The World Tour. Colin tells the story of how cricket was divided down the middle, players and officials taking sides and sometimes never being reconciled. He provides a good social context and an interesting argument for those who wanted the tour to go ahead. "Most of these officials had fought in the war against Hitler and Fascism, they fought for freedom. " To see a tour like this cancelled seemed to go against all their beliefs about freedom. They also thought South Africa could be educated in abolishing apartheid and no contact would do no good." Brian Close was quoted as saying "If the S.A see what is allowed over here, it might cause people in S.A., people of all races to mix together",

There are very insightful interviews with Mike Brearley and Peter Hain (now a Lord!) Peter Hain realised that Sport was the South Africans weak spot and depriving them of this outlet was going to make a considerable impact. The intrangnent views by the MCC are well chronicled with the sombre pictures of barbed wire surrounding the square at Lord's and the erection of search lights and guard dogs patrolling. (Reminiscent for many of the concentration camps in the war.)

Ten days before the tour was due to begin, common sense prevailed and the Tour was called off, MCC blaming the Government in requesting the cancellation.

What followed was equalling amazing and surprisingly no book has chronicled the Rest of the World series. It was one of the most hard fought and entertaining series, sadly not recognised as Test Matches even though for the Rest of the World, Mike Procter had to bat at no.9.!
Colin mentions the strange sight in of the Tests of Basil D 'Olviera and Tony Greig batting for England against Eddie Barlow and Peter Pollock , four South Africans on the cricket field together, black and white. Perhaps cricket won in the end in 1970.
Malcolm Lorimer
Pitch Publishing £19.99

This limited edition of 25 copies only is signed by Colin plus 7 of the Interviewees that spoke to him for the book: Peter Baxter, Mike Brearley, Farokh Engineer, Ray Illingworth, Keith Fletcher, Lord Peter Hain, and Ken Shuttleworth.

Price £37.50 inc. postage & insurance.

To order ONE copy of the book:
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THAT WILL BE ENGLAND GONE by Michael Henderson
To be reading this book in the absence of cricket seems rather prophetic. The author writes a deeply personal tribute the 2019 cricket season but it is much more than that. He takes a tour around some of England's cricket grounds in which he recalls an England for which he waxes lyrical and he yearns for a cricket which is no more.

It is a very personal tribute to not just cricket but music and literature. He re-visits much-loved places to see how the game has changed since he started watching in 1965. It is more than just a tour of cricket grounds, he also talks about English literature and music, not just in highbrow way, he also has time for Brass Bands and his friendship with Ken Dodd.

He doesn't hold back from some very strong views about how cricket has changed and his views on some of the grounds like will not make easy reading for club officials. The book though will resonate with many cricket followers especially his views and dismissal of the 100. He watches the auction for the players and notes; "A sport happy to proclaim it knows the cost of everything and the value of nothing." At least he has been spared it for this year.

Two of the most moving chapters are the visits to his old school at Repton and also to Ramsbottom Cricket Club in the Lancashire League. In both chapters there is a warmth and the love of both places shine through.

You will not agree with everything he says but in a summer of little cricket it is worth reading and remembering why we follow and love the game.

Let Neville Cardus have the last words as the author quotes.
"There can be no summer in England without cricket."
Malcolm Lorimer

That will be England Gone by Michael Henderson. Published by Constable £20.00

GUNNER — My Life In Cricket by Ian Gould
When Virat Kohli gives you a hug and says some very nice things when you've just finished umpiring your last international match, I think it's fair to say you must have had a very good career to elicit such a reaction. That was the experience of Ian Gould who admitted that sitting in the umpires' room afterwards, with a few of his now former colleagues reminiscing about the past, it was the only time that he felt emotional during his umpiring days and he shed a few tears.

In 'Gunner-My Life In Cricket' his newly published autobiography, Gould shares a lot more including his farewell to the international scene following the 2019 World Cup that brought to an end an 13-year stint on the elite umpires panel.

Gould was the third umpire for the now infamous 'sandpaper' Test between Australia and South Africa at Cape Town in 2018 and had the job of telling the on-field umpires what he had been shown by the TV producers. "How do I handle this without creating a drama and exacerbating the situation?" was Gould's initial reaction and it was this ability to remain calm under the most intense pressure that helped him to become one of the top umpires in world cricket. As a result the ICC appointed Gould to umpire more India v Pakistan matches than anyone else because these games were perceived to be potentially volatile clashes. But apart from one bust up between Gautam Gambhir and Shahid Afridi, dealt with firmly by Gould who admits he was shaking, he never had an issue with either team and he quickly gained their respect.

But the relentless travelling and additional scrutiny brought in with the advent of DRS finally took its toll. Gould returned home in February 2016 from a series in New Zealand, suffering from a mixture of burn out and depression, and instead of putting his passport on top of the fridge in its normal place, stuck it inside between the ham and cheese. He is fulsome in his praise for the way the ICC and ECB handled a difficult time that he describes candidly.

Gould was a talented sportsman who played in the Arsenal youth system before manager Bertie Mee decided he was too small to be a goalkeeper. Instead the lad from Slough threw himself wholeheartedly into a cricket career as a wicketkeeper/batsman with Middlesex, signing in 1975 at the same time as Mike Gatting. When they signed Paul Downton in 1980, Gould realised it was time to move on, "they did not bring him to Lord's to play in the second team," he quips. He joined Sussex leading the side to Gillette Cup success in 1986 and his performances during his time at Hove, where he kept wicket to Imran Khan and Garth Le Roux, led to selection for the Ashes tour to Australia in 1982/83 and the World Cup in England in 1983, playing a total of 18 one-day internationals. He later returned to Middlesex for a decade as a coach and second-team captain in 1991. The ups and downs are all here, including Gould's England call-up that hilariously he thought was a wind-up when someone (he still doesn't know who, the usual culprits were with him!) phoned the 147 Snooker Club in Hove to interrupt his game with the news.

Encouraged by friends and some of the senior county umpires to take up umpiring when his stint as second team coach at Middlesex ended, Gould enjoyed the experience and quickly realised he had found his true vocation. He soon established a reputation as a player's umpire — someone who had been there and knew the ups and downs of the game — while also being a stickler for good behaviour. From his first season on the first-class list in 2002 his rise was swift-it took him just four years before his first international appointment-and he has witnessed some massive changes in the game in the following 17 years. He details the trials and tribulations of his time at the top with some surprising revelations and observations and airs his concerns about the way technology is taking over the umpire's role.
His love of the game shines through and 'Gunner' proved to be very enjoyable and enlightening read.
Ken Grime

Pitch Publishing £19.99

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Mike Brearley
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