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Bent Arms & Dodgy Wickets: England's Troubled Reign as Test Match Kings during the Fifties [Kindle Edition]

Tim Quelch
4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (12 customer reviews)

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Book Description

When Andrew Strauss’s team seized the world title in the summer of 2011 they finally recovered what had been lost at the Adelaide Oval in 1959. This tale of England's preceding triumph and loss is recounted through the memoirs of many of the star players when England had last been top of the world. Bent Arms and Dodgy Wickets tells the story of English cricket’s slow recovery from the Second World War, of its brief time of triumph and of its undignified fall from grace – a tale of fluctuating fortunes reflected upon by great names including Hutton, Compton and Trueman, Lindwall and Miller, McGlew and Weekes. The title refers to the sporting controversies of the time – suspect bowling actions and poor pitches – as Britain declined as an imperial power, and English cricket was hampered by class snobbery, anachronistic fixations and an uncompetitive domestic game.

Product Description


"This well written and widely researched book is full of most interesting and contentious events... The author brilliantly places before us the reasons why English Test cricket was surpassed by other cricket nations in the late fifties and suggests the reasons why change had to happen. The analysis is backed by opinions from many of the great cricketers of the fifties. It is a strongly recommended book" --Cricket Memorabilia Society

"Erudite and entertaining in equal parts, Tim Quelch's engaging study of England's rise to become unofficial world champions in the 1950s, followed by their distressing fall from grace at decade's end, offers nostalgia with a bite, a potent cocktail of cricket narrative, character study and, most telling of the lot, probing political insight." --Backspin Magazine

"Occasionally the cricket becomes inextricably entwined with the changing social order and this is where Bent Arms and Dodgy Wickets is at its best. It is one of the most enjoyable cricket books I have read in a long time." --Martin Chandler,

"Once upon a time we thought of the 1950s as a golden age of English cricket... We now look back at the 1950s and are not entirely comfortable with what we find there: the class snobbery, the imperial arrogance, the colour prejudice. Tim Quelch reflects that unease throughout his account of the decade. Quelch has tried to look at history differently and for that he should be applauded as he should for giving his royalties to Parkinson's research." --The Cricketer

"Bent Arms & Dodgy Wickets is a superb new book about the England cricket team in 1950s." --Mark Butcher

"A distinguished book, it deserves every success." --All Out Cricket

"A unique sports book in many respects, Bent Arms and Dodgy Wickets offers a fascinating mix of prescient comment and contemporary observations from English cricket's 'Golden Age' in the 1950s when, for a while, England were considered the world's best team. Drawing upon the written memoirs and eye witness accounts of players such as Sir Len Hutton, Brian Statham and Sir Everton Weekes, Bent Arms reads like an alternative social history of mid-fifties Britain." --Sports Book of the Month

"Bent Arms & Dodgy Wickets is a worthy compilation, not least because it places cricket in its wider social context, and the author reveals a rare talent for recreating the drama of the matches." --Association of Cricket Statisticians Newsletter

"Tim Quelch's account of post-war English Test cricket to the end of the 1950s is a fascinating description of the players, the series and the performances of the era. The book is an excellent read and of particular interest is the reference to improved levels of fitness and to fielding skills, although it would be some years before these reached modern standards. Well researched and presented with evocative photographs, this book is well worth a look and is a delight for those who enjoy cricket and social history." --Peakfan Cricket Blog

"An important book, addressing the shameful spills and conspicuous ills of post-war cricket in Blighty... Covering the decade and a half after the Second World War, Quelch skilfully sets the pitifully slow death of shamateurism and the Gents-Players divide against a backdrop of a country divided, one basking in glory yet lacking not only food and funds but acceptance of a less deferential, more meritocratic world." --Rob Steen, Cric Info

About the Author

Tim Quelch is a retired local government officer. He previously wrote: Forever and Ever a book of Burnley FC supporters' recollections 1960-2000, Never Had It So Good, about Burnley's incredible 1959/60 Football League title-winning triumph and Underdog! 50 Years of Trials and Triumphs with Football's Also-Rans, which was written to raise funds for the Alzheimer's Society. In Bent Arms and Dodgy Wickets Quelch reflects upon his introduction to cricket, his shared sporting love, during the 1950s. This book is written in order to raise funds for the Parkinson's UK.

Product details

  • Format: Kindle Edition
  • File Size: 2170 KB
  • Print Length: 304 pages
  • Publisher: Pitch Publishing (Brighton) Ltd (19 Nov. 2012)
  • Sold by: Amazon Media EU S.à r.l.
  • Language: English
  • Text-to-Speech: Enabled
  • X-Ray:
  • Word Wise: Not Enabled
  • Average Customer Review: 4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (12 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #69,950 Paid in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store)
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Customer Reviews

4.4 out of 5 stars
4.4 out of 5 stars
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
7 of 7 people found the following review helpful
This account of post war English test cricket, peaking in the mid 50's, is a fascinating description of the players, the series, and the performances. It balances first hand commentaries and reflections from key figures of the time with the politics of the establishment as social and economic growth challenged the attitudes of authority to race, professionalism and the end of empire.
Tim Quelch's detailed critique of the amateur/professional traditions and their effect on captaincy, selection, and management styles in the game gives a picture of attitudes to class, winning at all costs and a reluctance to accept the values of a multi-ethnic society.Not only are the accounts of the matches and their highlights entertaining but the backdrop of Indian, West Indian and South African changing positions on integration, alongside the UK's loss of colonial power, give this book a particular slant on the loss of supremacy in 1959.
The issues of throwing, pitch preparation, and the dressing room protocols on behaviour-even speaking about political difference, were avoided by the MCC as it struggled to retain prewar ideas of sportsmanship and myths of a golden age where class was structured without visible discontent.The analyses of batting and bowling skills and styles, the introduction of attention to fielding and fitness, give a timely reflection on the difficulties of England's recent test success and inability to stay at the top. The development of new approaches to professional performance are echoed in today's clashes of cultures.
Well presented, with evocative photographs of an era where sport and style reflected the struggles to keep in touch with the change in society, this book is a stimulating mixture of individual heroics and institutional resistance to new challenges.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A winter tonic. 6 Jan. 2013
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
January can be such a depressing month for a whole variety of reasons. One way of dealing with this is to buy a really good book and spend a good few hours sitting by the fire with a steady supply of suitable food and drink. Even better is to choose a quality cricket book to transport us back to those happy,sometimes hot summer days watching the great game. If that appeals ( no pun intended !) - I can thoroughly recommend Tim Quelch's "Bent Arms and Dodgy Wickets" which looks back to the cricket and life in the 1950's when England had some truly great players and were considered to be the best cricketing nation for most of that decade. With players like Hutton, Compton, May, Cowdrey, Tyson, Trueman, Statham, Bedser , Laker and Lock it's not surprising we were so successful.
What makes the book so good is the clever way the author manages to examine so many other aspects of life, current affairs and society in the 50's and this wider context helps to make the book such an interesting read. I was born in 1952 and did not really start following the great game until 1959/60. Tim's book has really helped to add flesh to my limited knowledge on this happy but austere decade after the Second World War. Looking back now it certainly was another world with Gentlemen v Players, no one-day games, uncovered pitches and no helmets - with fast bowlers coming at you from 18 yards with drag!! Even the batting gloves then gave feeble protection with little rubber spikes! Unfortunately the "throwing" controversy still continues to this day.
Treat yourselves to this wonderful book with a superb selection of evocative photos. If you have any interest in the game you will not regret it and all the proceeds will be going to the Parkinson's UK Charity.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Ascerbic, insightful, funny, beautifully written 11 Jan. 2013
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
Quelch's expert account of a previous golden age of English Test cricket is irreverent, amusing, sometimes shocking. Excellent, a great present, or keep it by your bed for reference while waiting for the 4am cricket to get going.
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4.0 out of 5 stars A really enjoyable book 20 Dec. 2012
What a lovely nostalgic wander down memory lane... this is a book of huge interest to the cricket historian/anorak... and to anyone who can personally recall the 50s... especially growing up in them when at the time they seemed such a good place to be a boy growing up. Although now looking back we know how austere and grey they really were.

It was important then to have heroes and in cricket none came bigger than Len Hutton, Frank Tyson, Denis Compton and Freddie Trueman... and how good it was to be the dominant world team for 5 years or so in the 50s - which is what this book is all about - and the events leading up to that golden spell.

In truth I'm not really a cricket book reader,but footie books I'll buy by the yard. But this book must have passed some kind of subconscious test because by the end I'd learned such a lot about the way the game was viewed back then, the difference between gentlemen and professionals, what kind of chap was seen as an ideal captain, the importance of the public school types... and that it seems doubtful that Freddie Trueman ever actually said "Pass the salt Gunga Din," on one tour to one dignitary. But it is true that on the first post war tour of Australia some England players put on two stones in weight after their starvation diet in the UK during the war years.

What Tim Quelch does in each chapter is set the social and political scene which puts sport and cricket into a necessary perspective. They become as interesting as the cricket itself... nudges to all of us who lived through them and a history lesson to those that didn't.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
4.0 out of 5 stars Not such a Golden Era
A well written book giving time to the various political back drops of the age as well as a taste of the Cricketing characters of this far from Golden Era of Cricket.
Published 1 month ago by Amazon Customer
3.0 out of 5 stars Quite interesting, but ...
The subject matter is fascinating, but the handling is rather poor. The chapters are badly organised, with the author skipping backwards and forwards in time, without obvious... Read more
Published 12 months ago by A. J. McGowan
5.0 out of 5 stars My first kindle purchase
An excellent book, well written with reference to bot the cricket and the social context within which matches were played. Highly recommended.
Published 15 months ago by D. Crapnell
5.0 out of 5 stars Great value for any cricket lover
Excellent, covering a period often neglected nowadays.
I particularly liked the social context against which the cricket was being played.The gradual decline of the M.C. Read more
Published 19 months ago by Colin Croad
5.0 out of 5 stars very good indeed
THE 1950s were when my interest began - showing my age I suppose. The book certainly give a slant on how thngs were. However are things any better now.
Published 22 months ago by Phil Jackson ptjackson
5.0 out of 5 stars Excellent
A first class picture of an era of cricket that we learned little from and as such were doomed to repeat a lot of its mistakes.
Published 22 months ago by Len Bamber
4.0 out of 5 stars enjoyable
Quite informative and enjoyable to any cricket lover like me .Thoroughly covers the cricket played in 50's by the England cricket team.
Published 23 months ago by RUDRAPRASAD BHATTACHARYYA
3.0 out of 5 stars A mixed bag
The discussion of the cricket is interesting and provides some insights. The descriptions of the social and political background to the cricket is like a competent student essay. Read more
Published on 23 Jan. 2013 by Alan Lovell
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