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Then Came Massacre: The Story of Maurice Tate, Cricket's Smiling Destroyer
Then Came Massacre: The Story of Maurice Tate, Cricket's Smiling Destroyer
by Justin Parkinson
Edition: Hardcover
Price: £14.39

2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars An affectionate take on an under told story, 31 Aug 2013
Maurice Tate is one of the great players. He made his Test debut in the same Test as Herbert Sutcliffe. He was the first man to dismiss Donald Bradman in Test cricket. He claimed 2784 first class wickets at an average of 18 and scored over 20,000 first class runs. In the mid 1920s he was universally considered to be the best bowler in England claiming over 200 first class wickets two seasons in succession. He claimed 155 Test wickets and scored a Test match hundred. Despite this record of success he is almost unheard of by most cricket fans. A new book by Justin Parkinson hopes to put that right.

"Then Came Massacre" is an affectionate portrait of Tate by a Sussex fan and we get an insight into Maurice Tate the person as well as the bowler. Tate made his first class debut at the age of 17 for Sussex but that is not where the cricketing story begins for the Tate family. Maurice's father Fred was a professional cricketer who become infamous in his only Test where he dropped a catch and was the last man out in a close run chase. Many blamed Fred for the loss of that game in 1902, most notably himself. It is suggested at the time that he said his boy would put things right, and Maurice certainly did.

As with any great cricketers biography it is all too easy to fall into an exercise of just listing numbers of wickets and runs scored, and Parkinson is careful not to enter this trap. While there is plenty of facts and figures to keep the cricket nerd happy these are always in context and aide in telling the narrative of Tate's career. We learn of his family life before and during his cricket career and how this shaped him as a man. We are told he endured the wrath of the Essex captain, JWHT Douglas, when he returned home early from a coaching job in South Africa that Douglas had secured for him. For a professional to so risk the wrath of a esteemed amateur says a lot about the character of Tate. It is always interesting to get an examination of the politics that the Amateur/Professional divide created in cricket.

The turning point in Tate's career from county journeyman to world class performer came when he made the decision to change his bowling style from off spin to pace. There are a few stories explored in this book, but without question one of those that had the biggest part to play in the decision and Tate's subsequent career path was his captain at Sussex, AER Gilligan. The change began in 1922 and was fully formed by the start of the next season where no took more wickets in first class cricket than Tate.

This book has an excellent pace to it and covers the key events in Tate's life and his career. Before I picked it up to read it I had heard of Maurice Tate but had no idea how big a part he played in cricket at this time. He was on the bodyline tour, be played with and against some of the greatest players of all time and was considered by them to be amongst their number. For a modern take on a criminally under told story Parkinson's book is a must read.

Cricket at the Crossroads
Cricket at the Crossroads
by Guy Fraser-Sampson
Edition: Hardcover
Price: £12.43

2 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars An insightful and informative read, 30 July 2012
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The events that this book focus on all happened before I was born. They are events that all cricket fans will be aware of but they may not have an in depth knowledge of what took place. In Fraser-Sampson's excellent book the movement of cricket from a sport run by wealthy amateurs to one that was dominated by professionals whose inclusion in a side as a player or captain was based on talent not background.
Cricket at the Crossroads covers the Basil D'Olivera affair in details, from the time that D'Olivera made it into the England side to the point where his belated reinclusion in the side led to the Vorster government cancelling the England tour of South Africa in 1968-69. The comment and analysis given by Fraser-Sampson in the book is both insightful and informative and has led me to have a much greater understanding of the events that led to South Africa's 21 year sporting exile.
The book also looks at the Amateur / Professional divide and the fact that although this had been officially abolished in 1962, it appears that the MCC still would rather a "gentleman" player was England's captain regardless of whether a more able candidate was available amongst the professionals. Brian Close seemed to bear the brunt of this particular fight and Fraser-Sampson focuses on how he struggled to find his feet as England captain in this climate.
The section of the book that goes into detail of Ray Illingworth's time as England captain was of particular interest. My experience of Illingworth as a cricket fan is only when he was a somewhat disastrous and very controversial England coach and selector in the mid-1990s. As England captain he was a no less controversial figure, but it seems he was well respected by his players who felt that he would do anything for them. Fraser-Sampson paints a picture of Illingworth as a plain speaking and tactically astute captain who challenged authority and his opposition in equal measure.
In contrast, the image of Colin Cowdrey that the book gives us is one of an introverted and sullen character who did not seem able to come to terms with the turning tide within cricket. His siding with the management on England's rift filled Ashes tour of 1970-71 highlights how Cowdrey seemed unable to see how much the cricketing world had changed.
This book has left me much better informed of a pivotal period in English and World cricketing history, and is a must read for all serious cricketing fans. Even more so for those whose own period of cricket following has come in an era where acceptance of a talented cricketer was guaranteed regardless of his social or racial background.

Ant World
Ant World
Price: £9.50

6 of 7 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Wow - I never knew ants were so cool, 1 April 2009
= Durability:5.0 out of 5 stars  = Fun:5.0 out of 5 stars  = Educational:4.0 out of 5 stars 
This review is from: Ant World (Toy)
Well this arrived about a month ago but we waited until the weather got a little warmer to collect our ants, Jam works wonders!!! Two days and the ants have been really busy digging!! My children are two and four and they love watching the ants although they do think they need feeding everyday!! My husband and I are the most fasinated with this. The product was a little fiddly to put together but we've had no escapees so I am happy. All in all a good buy.

Moon Sand - Sand Castle
Moon Sand - Sand Castle

2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars sand everywhere, 19 Oct 2008
= Durability:1.0 out of 5 stars  = Fun:4.0 out of 5 stars  = Educational:2.0 out of 5 stars 
This review is from: Moon Sand - Sand Castle (Toy)
My daughter has been asking for this for months - grandma and grandpa finally gave in!!! Well it's fun and they love it but considering they bought her two packs which contained 4 bags of sand in total there is not much left it gets everwhere!!! I think it is over priced for what it is and certainly would not buy it myself!! If you want to annoy a family member or close friend with a messy toy then this is the one to get!!! All in all nice idea but unless you have wipe down everything then don't get this!!

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