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on 7 December 2012
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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on 6 January 2013
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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on 23 January 2013
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. I soon found myself skipping these passages
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on 11 January 2013
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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on 20 December 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. Anyway during that golden spell England swashed while Australia buckled (always a good thing) and the names that crop up on every page be they West Indian, Australian and English are enough to make a cricket fan drool.

A recommended book then, easy to read, full of nuggets and tit bits of knowledge, filled with cricket achievements and tales of players who were the biggest names around in my boyhood.
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on 1 April 2014
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 purpose. There are also quite a few mistakes - not so much about the cricket, but whenever the author widens his horizons, things go wrong. And it's all rather awkwardly written, as if by a basically ungifted writer, doing their absolute best. And yet I still quite enjoyed it, simply for the resonance of the names (Edrich, Compton, Tyson ...), and the fascinating times through which they passed.
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on 29 August 2013
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.Cs influence and its failure to arrest a dwindling audience for the game
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on 7 March 2015
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.
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on 30 May 2013
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.
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on 27 December 2013
An excellent book, well written with reference to bot the cricket and the social context within which matches were played. Highly recommended.
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