Published in paperback by Little, Brown, £13.99
The Trundlers: Underrate Them at Your Peril... By Harry Pearson
Sunday 19 May 2013
Cricket's quickies and spinners tend to get far more attention than the medium-pace men, but the pantheon of seamers, swingers and off-stump naggers celebrated here by Harry Pearson reminds us what an integral part of the game bowlers operating largely in the 50-75mph zone have been down the years.
He credits the round-armer William Lillywhite of Sussex, born in 1792, who was 5ft 4in but enhanced his height by bowling in a top hat, as the first true trundler, and while it's perhaps an exaggeration to claim as he does that military medium became "English cricket's default setting", the roll call of names such as George Hirst, Tom Cartwright, Derek Shackleton and Don Shepherd he celebrates with affectionate humour is persuasive. And to borrow David Lloyd's description of the New Zealand attack in the Nineties, Messrs Dibbly, Dobbly, Wibbly and Wobbly from other countries are also given due attention.
Of them all, who was the best? Comparisons across the generations are notoriously difficult, but the record of Syd Barnes is astonishing. A chippy, humourless character from Smethwick, he cut the ball both ways off the pitch, swung it and extracted bounce from even the most placid wicket. Although he played 27 Tests he was suspicious of first-class cricket, preferring to hold down a full-time job as a clerk and play in the professional leagues at the weekends. His figures are barely believable: from 1895 to 1940, by which time he was 67, he took over 4,000 wickets at an average of 6.08.
A minor quibble: at this price for a paperback of 248 pages, the lack of photographs is disappointing. Vivid descriptions of such epochal trundlers as Maurice "Chub" Tate ("His boots the size of kipper boxes, his hips wider than his shoulders") and Gary Gilmour ("Short and broad-beamed, with a coach-driver's haircut and the sort of bucolic face that might have earned him a place in the Wurzels") cry out for them. However, as the book is otherwise an unalloyed delight for anyone remotely interested in the history of the game, don't for heaven's sake let this omission deter you from buying it.
Grace Dent on TV The Secret Life of the Pub is sexist, ageist and a breath of fresh air
Art Megumi Igarashi criticises Japan's 'backwards' attitude to women's sexual expression
Ray Davies' Sunny Afternoon scoops the most awardsTheatre
Grace DentChannel 4 show proves there's no app for happiness
Arts & Ents blogs
- 1 Alan Rickman admits editing 'terrible' script with friends in Pizza Hut behind backs of writers on Robin Hood: Prince of Thieves
- 2 Rarest Beanie Baby of them all could be sold for £62,500 on eBay
- 3 Professional big game hunter Ian Gibson crushed to death by elephant during hunt
- 4 Farmer told to tear down mock-Tudor castle after hiding construction behind hay bales
- 5 Rebecca Francis accuses Ricky Gervais of using 'influence' to target female hunters after receiving barrage of death threats
Better Call Saul creator Peter Gould on the creative concerns of a prequel, season 2 and the mind-numbing realities of the small courts
Game of Thrones season 5: Emilia Clarke praises characters who 'accept their femininity'
Britain's Got Talent 2015: RSPCA investigating Marc Metral's miming dog after cruelty complaints
Fifty Shades of Grey movie shows first sex scene 'after 40 minutes'
Glastonbury 2015 tickets: How to make sure you’re successful in Sunday's re-sale
If I’m being racially abused I don’t need a stranger with a saviour complex to rescue me
The only black face in the Ukip manifesto is on the page about overseas aid
Ukip is the only main political party to not address LGBT rights in its manifesto
Food banks: One million Britons will soon be using them, according to Trussell Trust
Religion isn't growing, it is becoming vigorous in its demise, says philosopher AC Grayling
BBC election debate: The one photo that summed up the whole 90-minute leaders debate