If Not Me, Who?
The Story of Tony Greig, The Reluctant Rebel.
In March 1977, the England cricket captain, Tony Greig, was arguably the most famous and popular sportsman in the country and the best all-rounder in world cricket. He had recently led England to a famous series victory in India, the first successful campaign on the subcontinent since the Second World War. Then he had conjured up a doughty performance from his travel-weary troops in the dramatic, one-off Centenary Test in Melbourne, narrowly losing by 45 runs. The margin of defeat improbably mirrored exactly that of the first ever Test match 100 years earlier.
Within weeks though, his reputation was in tatters. He was branded a traitor and a mercenary, stripped of the England captaincy and excluded from the national side at the conclusion of the 1977 Ashes series. (And he wouldn’t have played in that had not his successor, Mike Brearley, insisted.) He was also relieved of the Sussex captaincy and banned from first-class cricket for eight weeks. His involvement in the controversial Packer Revolution had caused his fall from grace. Soon afterwards, he left England for good for a commentary career in Australia.
Gentleman and Player
The Story of Colin Cowdrey, Cricket's Most Elegant and Charming Batsman
Colin Cowdrey is remembered for the elegance of his strokeplay, but there was much more to this complex man than a classical cover drive. His successes were numerous: 114 Test matches, 22 Test hundreds, 100 first-class centuries, countless famous victories and unforgettable innings.
There was controversy and disappointment too, chief among them being repeated snubs for the England captaincy and the D’Oliveira Affair. Cowdrey was involved in three of England’s most memorable Tests: Lord’s in 1963 against the West Indies, batting at 11 with his arm in plaster, two balls left and all four results possible; Trinidad in 1968 in which England secured a famous victory against the West Indies; and The Oval in 1968 when England gained an improbable final-over win against Australia.
In later life, he shone as an administrative leader – as President of Kent and of the MCC, and as chairman of the ICC – and was made a Lord. Sir Garry Sobers spoke for many when he said at his memorial service in Westminster Abbey, ‘Colin Cowdrey was a great man.’
Test of Character
The Story of John Holder, First-class Cricketer and Test Match Umpire
After a career playing county cricket for Hampshire, cut short by injury, John Holder, an immigrant from Barbados, turned his hand to umpiring. He was on the first-class list for 27 years, during which time he officiated in 11 Tests (the first black umpire to stand in a home series in England) and 19 One Day Internationals. He also became the first neutral umpire to stand in a Test match (Pakistan v India) and was the instigator of the very first bowl-out.
This book throws an interesting light on the job of an international umpire, with all its pressures, vicissitudes, controversies and prejudices, leavened of course with a fair degree of humour too.
As a former team-mate of his at Hampshire, the author has had a close and enduring relationship with his subject, who felt confident to open up to tell his side of a hitherto largely neglected perspective of the professional game.
Sundial in the Shade
The Story of Barry Richards: the Genius Lost to Test Cricket
As a former county player, Andrew Murtagh is often asked who is the best batsman he has ever played with or against. His answer is always unequivocal - Richards. And then comes the inevitable rider - Barry, that is, not Viv. It is a travesty that the cricket world has largely forgotten Barry Richards - a cricketing genius. Making his Test debut for South Africa in 1970, his run-scoring, technique and audacious, extravagant strokeplay took the breath away.
A glittering international career beckoned. However, the apartheid storm burst and Richards had played his first and last Test series. Consigned to plying his trade for Hampshire, Natal and South Australia, Richards became increasingly frustrated and disenchanted with the game he had loved. Following retirement, personal tragedy and professional controversy continued to stalk him, though he has now come to an uneasy acceptance that he will be forever known as the genius lost to Test cricket.
Touched by Greatness
The Story of Tom Graveney, England's Much Loved Cricketer
Tom Graveney, by virtue of his peerless batsmanship, gracious manner and longevity in the game, was a national treasure - the favourite cricketer of so many fellow players, enthusiasts and aficionados. He opened the batting for England with Len Hutton early in his career and ended it batting with Geoffrey Boycott, thus straddling two generations. After retirement, he shone as a BBC commentator and latterly served as president of his beloved Worcestershire and of the MCC. Oft misunderstood, the character behind the legendary raconteur's affable facade is now effortlessly unlocked in this first-hand account of his life by close friend and fellow former professional cricketer, Andrew Murtagh. The details of many incidents, anecdotes and controversies have never before been shared – the sackings and banishments, redemption and a glorious international 'second coming' - revealing Graveney as a fount of cricketing insight and a true entertainer, by the fireside as at the crease.
A Remarkable Man
The Story of George Chesterton
This work celebrates the life of the late George Chesterton, first-class cricketer, World War Two bomber pilot and much-loved Malvern College housemaster.
The author succeeds in capturing the personality and humour of his subject through numerous interviews and affords a privileged view inside the walls of the traditional English public school to which Chesterton dedicated many years of his remarkable life. 'A Remarkable Man' stands as both a fine biography and a chronicle of changing social and historical times over a life that spanned the best part of a century.