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on 22 December 2013
This is my last book review of 2013 and is up there as one of the best I have read all year.

Malcolm Knox is a fine writer and this detailed look at the 1948 'Invincibles' from Australia, who visited these shores under Donald Bradman, reads like the most exciting of novels. They were a fine side, though the austerity of post-war England and the ongoing issues with rationing meant that they were fitter and stronger than the sides they faced. Many of the county sides featured players from the pre-war era, most of them too old and too slow for the powerful physical specimens who confronted them. Younger players were very inexperienced and it was a one-sided contest.

The cricket authorities played into their hands as well, agreeing to a new ball every 65 overs that meant their key pace bowling spearheads, Ray Lindwall and Keith Miller, could lead the attack, come back for another burst then have the advantage of a hard new ball after tea. While the side had good spinners, they became a secondary consideration as Bradman aimed to batter the England side into submission. His experiences against Harold Larwood and Bill Voce in the winter of 1932-33 still rankled, as did the way that England had ground his side into the dust at The Oval in 1938, racking up 903 runs as Bradman was carried off with an ankle injury. The plans of his players, and those of England, to resume the Ashes in a new spirit of friendship were dashed very quickly

Bradman agreed to return to England for one last time in 1948, not content to play the hoped-for fun series in the euphoria of post-world war Britain, but intent on getting his own back on an England side that had a small number of good players but too many who were past their prime. He wanted to win not just the Test series, but to go through the tour unbeaten and leave an indelible memory on the cricketing public. He managed that, but at a cost.

It was a tour he nearly didn't make after periods of ill-health, but while not the player of ten years earlier, his side had depth in batting and two of the greatest-ever fast bowlers. Bradman's methods saw him come into conflict with members of his team, many of who had gone through the pressures of war and wanted only a pleasant sporting release against people they had fought alongside. There was a definite rift between those who had served and Bradman, who had been invalided from the war. Their discomfort at the tactics used is well-documented and the tale beautifully told.

It is a fine book and a memorable one. The depth of research is admirable, as the tour is documented in match by match detail. There's only one error, unfortunately repeated twice in reference to a Derbyshire player of the time. We never had a player named 'Fred' Pope, who was apparently in the England reckoning in that summer. We did have Alf Pope and perhaps 'Alfred' is where the confusion has arisen, but he didn't play county cricket after 1939. His brother George is the player referred to and I hope the error is corrected in a future paperback edition.

While it is probably too late to slip a Christmas hint to the someone special in your life, I'd heartily recommend this book to someone who likes a good read, enjoys cricket history and has a few quid in gift money to spend after the coming festivities.

It is definitely worth it.
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on 22 August 2015
Malcolm Knox has taken the opportunity to show the darker side of Bradman. Though the Don was one of my boyhood heroes I found the book fascinating. I had to temper some of his more extravagant claims with the understanding that any captain who has the overwhelming desire to succeed must obviously ruffle quite a few feathers. Bradman, even from his youth was resolved to be the best and win. You only have to read about how, as a boy, he practised hitting a ball against railings using a cricket stump to see how obsessive he was to pursue his ambition. In 1948, what was to be his last appearance as an Australian captain post war, one cannot be surprised at how he pushed his team to win, no doubt irritating some of the more carefree characters, such as Keith Miller, who were out to enjoy their return to cricket and freedom from service life.
As a minor footnote, I believe that an incident related in the book to illustrate Bradman's kindness, related to me. At the age of twelve, I sent him a card and a golf ball to celebrate his birthday which occurred during the Test match at Lords. He sent me a lovely letter of thanks and the autographs of the team. Because I believe he mistook my nickname for that of a girl, I am listed as such by Malcolm Knox. Still, who cares? I still treasure that letter and my memories of a great legend.
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on 27 July 2013
Malcolm Knox knocks some of the gloss off the Bradman legend , but as journalists are apt to do he tends to shoehorn too many of the man's words and actions into fitting his thesis that Bradman was always looking to revenge long held grudges and that the 'spirit of cricket' for him was just about winning. Fascinating to read about the other characters involved in the 1948 tests and their relationships with each other &with Bradman -- Miller, Lindwall, Hasset, Barnes, Hutton, Compton, Bedser and Evans as well as the old Aussie test players turned journo' Fingleton & O'Reilly. I found the writing meandered a little, perhaps because as an Englishman I was less interested in the details of all five test matches in which an England still recovering from WWII, were hammered unmercifully by Bradman's team - a timely read with the current Ashes series underway !
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on 23 September 2013
An excellent book that tells of the ruthlessness of Sir Donald Bradman and his team. Bradman even enlisted the help of the England selectors to gain his series win. Malcolm Knox has done his research well and takes us back to a more keenly contested series of test matches than more recent series. England were easily beaten in the 1948 series and the author deserves praise for taking us back to a time of rationing and recovery from the second world war and notes the differences of the fitness of the two teams that did not help the English team.
Bradman's relations with his teammates are examined and his relationship with Keith Miller is fascinating.
A well-written book that I enjoyed reading.
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on 8 November 2015
Fascinating to read the Other Side of this Tour some of which Matches I attended including every Day of Bradmans last Test at the Oval with his Famous Duck. This book shows all the Inner Tensions of the Tour and is not quite the Idolatry that usually pervades all writings about Bradman. Its quite obvious what a Determined and Solitary minded Individual he was. Unfortunately for the Game Nowadays Money and Money and Money overrides the Graces the Game used to Display... No Pun Intended. Its very interest to read the Book entitled "The invincibles " and then then THIS Book.
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on 19 July 2014
This was bought as a gift for a friend and he is absolutely thrilled with it.
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on 20 July 2014
Haven't finished reading it (more than half through) - makes out strong case and appears to have been well researched: no item of gossip overlookeed. Perhaps labours his points a little too much
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on 25 January 2014
A fascinating account of the legendary '48 tour. It is well known that Australia went through the tour undefeated, but Knox paints a fresh picture of this iconic tour. Well worth reading for even the seasoned cricket fans who thought they knew this story inside out.
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on 18 August 2015
Reveals the true character of Bradman.Like many spotsmen,there is a great difference between their public & private persona
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on 6 March 2015
Interesting. Lots of detail. I enjoyed it.
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