on 24 May 2007
Having seen some stellar reviews of this book in various national papers, and having encountered books from this growing publisher before I thought I'd take a punt and buy a copy.
Thoroughly entertaining, excellently written and wonderfully nostalgic this is a book to return to time and again. Fun anecdotes, excellent photographs and a cast of heroes and villains; what more could you ask for?
on 30 July 2007
I first got hooked on cricket during the summer of '76 when the West Indies toured - was it really 31 summers ago ? This book is extremely well researched and takes us through the whole series almost ball by ball and offers terrific insight into the characters and their motivations. David Steele is particularly cutting about his subsequent treatment by the England selectors after battling it out against the West Indies pace attack and the Autralians the summer before. Being discarded when averaging over 40 in tests against those attacks seems very harsh.
Viv Richards, Michael Holding and Gordon Greenidge are at their peak and under the shrewd captaincy of Clive Lloyd, England under Tony Grieg with their aging team were no match. With hindsight you wonder what the selectors were thinking when you look at some of the selections and David Tossell has many observations on this state of play. For me the most interesting test is the 5th test at the Oval where Richards made 291, Holding took 14 wickets and Amiss (on comeback) scored 203 for England. You can visualise every ball and it makes one hanker for a decent DVD release of this fascinating series. Recommended for all cricket lovers.
1976 Is brought back to life in this excellent book!
The scene is det perfectly, with a reminder of how Clive Lloyds men had really struggled in recent series against India and Australia. A 5-1 series defeat in the latter is what led to England Captain Tony Greig's infamous comment about making the West Indies grovel...
All of the five tests are detailed and the majority of the players of the time are interviewed for their recollections.
A must for any cricket lover.
on 30 December 2012
I was eighteen years old in 1976 and remember watching Tony Greig on Sportsnight in early June of that year making a flip comment that the West Indies were a fine team if you let them get on top of you, but less so if you get at them, as Lillee and Thomson had done so well in Australia. "But if they're down they grovel and I intend...to make them grovel".
Greig probably regretted the use of that word for the rest of his days. Had he only used 'struggle' or any number of other options it would have been fine, but the connotations of that word, used by a man of white South African background, caused ramifications that went way past that golden summer.
A golden summer it was, with parched, brown outfields testimony to endless, hot, dry days on which the touring side, brought up in such conditions, thrived. In many ways it marked their coming of age, with Gordon Greenidge emerging as a world-class opening batsman alongside Roy Fredericks, while Viv Richards gave the first true evidence of his greatness. With Alvin Kallicharran and Clive Lloyd to follow and Larry Gomes, Collis King and Lawrence Rowe fighting for the other batting slot, they had a galaxy of talent available.
They didn't have a spinner of note, but rarely needed one when the fast and nasty Andy Roberts was backed up by the raw, wild but very pacey Wayne Daniel and the smooth, lithe and scarily fast Michael Holding. Such a side would have been too much for most others in the history of the game, but against an England side that struggled with injuries to their (albeit slower) fast bowlers and persisted with a policy of experience, they were far too strong.
They cut a swathe around the counties that summer, with six players passing a thousand runs and a seventh, Rowe, only just falling short. No matter how hostile the attack, it always seemed to ramp up another level when Greig came in to bat. His brave century in the fourth Test at Headingley, followed by an unbeaten 76 in the second innings was in sharp contrast to the 51 runs in his other seven innings of the series.
As a spectacle it was a magnificent summer and David Tossell's excellent book takes you back there, aided by comments from some of the participants and others who, like me, only watched from afar. It is not simply a tour account, but as much a social history, the summer marking a sea change in the attitudes of supporters and players alike.
Over the ensuing years the West Indies dominated the world game as no side had ever done before,Aside from a 1-0, one wicket loss to New Zealand, they were unbeaten in a Test series until 1994-95, although an endless array of fast bowling talent saw accusations of 'bully boy' tactics levelled at them with good reason. This book considers these accusations and as a reflection on an era it is an extraordinary piece of work.
It is another excellent title from Pitch Publishing, who have produced some very good titles in 2012 and have much to be proud of.
So too does David Tossell, whose book deserves to be read by anyone with an interest in the history and development of the game.
I'll be reading this one again, that's for sure.
on 18 October 2009
read this book on holiday a couple of weeks back and i thought it was a fantastic read. With Dennis Amiss being my all time hero i was very keen to have a fresh angle on the way he concquered his problems over fast bowling-wasnt disappointed with that sub plot. there were plenty of other interesting sub plots, for instance how Gordon Greenidge wasnt at the time too popular with his time mates & David Steeles bitterness (Steeles only really poor match was when he opened the batting) when he was disguarded by the england selectors at the end of that summer. very cruel indeed on Steele
Tony Greig offered an honest apprasal of that summers events and wrote a decent forward to the book.
for anyone who can remember that summer and people interested in cricket in general my advice is read this book-you wont be disappointed
on 2 February 2010
I was just a cricket mad 8 year old during the long hot summer of 1976, but will never forget the cricket, or the thousands of jubillant West Indian fans... a must read - not just to understand the cricket, but to feel the social tension and colonial hangover of the time.
on 23 June 2012
I've read 100's of cricket books over the past 30 odd years - this is one of the very best. Superbly researched and gives fresh perpective to a seminal cricket season that will live long in my memory. I was 13 at the time and that West Indian team seemed so charismatic and dynamic.
On the other hand England had players (fine cricketers though they were) who looked like almost 'favourite Uncle' figures; Close, Edrich, Underwood, Steele etc.
A magnificent book - I am currently re reading it after first getting it in 2007.
on 30 January 2012
On the eve of the first Test match of the long, hot 1976 summer, BBC television were broadcasting an interview with the England cricket captain, Tony Greig, a white South African. A positive and aggressive cricketer, he was new to his job, and wanted to mould his England team into a tough side able to compete with the very best, which then, as in more recent times, meant Australia, who had just themselves thrashed Clive Lloyd's West Indies 5-1.
The West Indian cricketers had been traditionally perceived as inter-island bickerers. Talented, but able to implode if put under pressure. Greig hoped to exploit such a weakness (if indeed it existed).
In the next few minutes, Greig uttered a phrase that, even 36 years later, he has never been allowed to forget.
He said that he intended to make the West Indies "grovel".
Clive Lloyd had no need for a team talk. His opposite number had done it for him. His team may well have defeated England anyway, containing, as it did, the young batting genius of Vivian Richards (now Sir Viv) and the devastating bowling arsenal, led by Michael Holding, but that word galvanised the team and helped spur them on to crush England and their skipper, who was himself left to grovel on the Oval turf at the series' end.
This is more than just a cricket book. It chronicles a magnificent, but ruthless, group of athletes who became heroes and role models for a whole generation of young British Caribbeans; the first generation to grow up with no memories of their parents' islands.
Set in a pre-Thatcherite world of high inflation, social unrest, inner-city riots, a new Race Relations Act, racist sit-coms and a drought, Tossell's work is a thoroughly researched,fascinating and well-written chronicle of a pivotal period in this island's history.