Top critical review
19 people found this helpful
TRIBUTE OR BIOGRAPHY?
on 9 July 2009
Apart from a heavily ghosted autobiography now long out of print, this is the first real portrait of Harold Larwood to emerge in decades - though not without it's faults.
Readable, and highly entertaining even for those individuals with only a fleeting interest in cricketing history (no mean feat), Hamilton's text is also complemented by some rare and insightful photographs from the Larwood family archive.
Depending on your point of view, this book is perhaps more of a rosy tribute than an objective assessment of Larwood's career. Hamilton often allows his admiration of the man to stray dangerously on the side of the sycophantic. Caution is particularly advisable when reading passages relating to Larwood's dealings with the cricketing authorities in the wake of the Bodyline furore. Hamilton's version of events sees Larwood as some sort of working class martyr, an innocent but inevitable victim of the pre-war class conflict waged by blazered "toffs" at the MCC. When in reality, Larwood was simply a stubborn man, often prone to bouts of childish intransigience, who in this instance, fatally allowed his pride to cloud his better judgement and ultimately robbed English cricket of a unique talent.
If proof were needed of this, contrast Larwood's fate with that of his fellow team mate, Bill Voce. Pragmatic and realistic by nature, Voce eventually made his peace with the powers that be and continued to play and coach cricket at a competitive level long after the dust from Bodyline had settled. Larwood, meanwhile, sold sweets from a corner shop.