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on 9 March 2014
As an Englishmen, I never understood the hype around Kim Hughes, an average test cricketer I would say. Reading this and some of the reviews, clearly he had a tough time, but he didn't help himself, I don't think. Yes, some of the Aussie big names at the time don't appear to have treated him well, but it seems to me he showed incredible arrogance at times and an inability to mould his game to adapt and succeed. Anyway, that is all covered in the book, which is well written and easy to read.
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on 22 July 2014
A superbly written account of the rise and fall of one of Australia's most gifted batsmen. Kim Hughes had the looks, the talent and the personality to have become one of the icons of the game and yet he is best remembered for resigning the captaincy he craved in tears and leading a rebel tour to South Africa.
Hughes fell foul of the fault lines that cracked through Australian cricket like crazy paving after Kerry Packer. Dennis Lillee and Rod Marsh became implacable foes who never accepted him while Greg Chappell, cold and inapproachable as a cricketing god, watched the feuds fester with icy indifference.
Despite receiving no help from the subject of this compelling story, Christian Ryan has produced a wonderfully-detailed and incisive account that at times reads like a thriller. Despite the fact that Kim Hughes did not cooperate with the telling of his story, it is a book he should be proud of.
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on 21 March 2014
This book is a man of that was born in the wrong era of Austraila. He came against the triumvirate of at the strong willed players of any era. Good read but sad.
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on 1 July 2013
I was motivated to read this book after seeing Tom Hardy's excellent film about the Ashes series of 1981 in England. The level of detail in the book is staggering, and the Author makes you raelise what a tight rope he constantly walks as he interviews and gets very revealing insights from people who coached and played against and alongside Hughes, Marsh and Lillee. This book is a must-read for all cricket fans.
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on 29 April 2015
A skilful evocation of a not so golden period for Australian cricket and of the man who suffered more than most. I found this book fascinating, entertaining and ultimately, very moving. Christian Ryan is an excellent writer. Highly recommended.
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on 19 January 2014
A great warts and all book about a forgotten cricket hero.well worth a read. A cricket era far removed from today
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on 3 August 2015
great book good service
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on 26 October 2011
In many ways Kim Hughes always struck me as a throwback to a bygone era. His cavalier style of batting, with little regard for the match situation, would not have been out of place in the Cardusian "Golden Era" prior to the First World War. With a landmark beckoning, Hughes often aimed to reach it with a towering six. Sometimes it came off spectacularly, but on others he perished and there can be few big name batsmen who have missed out so often in the 90s as Hughes had a tendency to do. His strokeplay was vivid, innovative and eye-catching, though his self-confessed tendency to decide on the stroke before the ball was delivered could also lead to his downfall. To do that when seeing it like a football is one thing; to do it on a regular basis is not the most sensible of approaches.

A Test average of just under 40 is indicative of talent, but not at the very highest level and a player with Hughes attitude - one similar to Michael Slater, Virender Sehwag, Chris Gayle and a few more - will always entertain and infuriate in equal measure. As he showed in the centenary Test at Lords, Hughes was like the little girl with the curl: when he was good, he was very, very good - though when he was bad...

I've read a good few books over the years that purported to be "explosive" and this is one of the few that genuinely lives up to the billing. A number of the main protagonists declined to be interviewed for it and the author, Christian Ryan, has done a remarkable job in piecing together the story of an Australian dressing room at a time of turmoil from those willing to talk. There was a lot going on of course - the Packer revolution, rebel tours and big name/big ego players was a recipe for disaster, unless overseen by a player of equable temperament and ability.

Kim Hughes was just short of that and the attitude of the Chappell brothers, Ian and Greg, Rod Marsh and Dennis Lillee does not show them in the best light. Lillee, trying to knock Hughes' head off at every net session; Marsh, seemingly undermining him at every turn with his own captaincy ambitions thwarted and the Chappells offering little in the way of support and plenty that could be construed as antagonistic. Hughes' carefree attitude sat poorly with them and they made their dissatisfaction patently obvious to most observers, certainly those with more than a passing eye on the Australian dressing room. He was too flashy, too unreliable, too much the outsider to their inner circle. His ultimate breaking down at the press conference as he resigned the captaincy of the national side was more remarkable by the fact that it took so long to happen, given the pressures he faced from inside and outside of the side.

Kim Hughes' career spiralled downwards as his eye went and his foot movement became more leaden. A less than perfect technique being shown up by the physical and psychological bombardment of the West Indies of the time, an unrelenting attack that was always going to test a happy and compulsive hooker. His final years were a melancholic parody of a batsman capable of genuine brilliance as he found various ways of getting out, infuriatingly when well-set.. Yet having played club cricket in Scotland for thirty years, I can vouch for the fact that every overseas professional is still compared to Hughes' spectacular year for Watsonians in Edinburgh before he made the international scene, while those who saw his rapier-like bat in action at Lords in that centenary Test saw batsmanship of a calibre rarely equalled, let alone surpassed. That he was a player of brilliance was undeniable. The reality is that there were just too few days when it lasted long enough to make a real difference.

The author has produced a masterful book that will live long in the memory. Perhaps too sensationalised for some tastes, but if you like your cricket books to make you think, raise your eyebrows and shake your head, this is undoubtedly one for you. As a 'several flies on a wall' account of a disintegrating dressing room, one overly reliant on a handful of ageing players, it is up there with the very best of its genre.

With Christmas coming, I would start slipping hints to the love of your life. This is a seriously powerful and thoroughly engaging read .
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on 20 April 2011
I lived through much of the period covered by this book, and have a clear memory as a cricket mad boy of the tempestous mid 1980's in Australian cricket. Back then, I was not a Hughes fan, in part because Lillee, Chappell and Marsh were legends of the game, and in part because every time Hughes was put to the captaincy test, he seemed to fail - and then his batting fell apart too. Unlike the other reviewers, I did not suddenly gain understanding of Hughes as hero, and nor do I think the author paints Hughes as such, or Lillee and Marsh as pointless antagonists. My opinion of Hughes, Lillee or Marsh was not changed but this book, but I will say I understand the situation better now than I did then, and can see several layers of nuance my young eyes missed.

What Golden Boy does do is paint a detailed picture of Hughes, and the riotious cricketing uproar that was WSC, the merger, and ultimately rebel tours of South Africa. Hughes became the ACB's Golden Child indeed, while WSC returnees Chappell, Marsh and Lillee remained the real power in the side. Hughes' overwhelming ambition was to captain Australia, and the ACB indulged him, when, to be fair, Marsh was probably a better choice when Chappell was not available.

Everyone portrayed here has flaws - they are human, after all. 25 years and more after events, no one has axes to grind, and you really do understand why Lillee and Marsh behaved as they did, and, to an extent, why Hughes was never able to command their respect. It is interesting to imagine a world where Hughes is but a batsman in a team captained by March into the mid 80's, and in time becoming captain then (perhaps never to be succeeded by Border at all, in the end).

This is a book about Australian cricket in the 1970's and 1980's, but the lessons presented here can be applied to just about any sport or even the business world. This is the rare thing, a book that teaches you something without being preachy, while somehow remaining a gripping read at the same time.
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on 13 December 2011
Christian Ryan is an engaging writer, passionate and emotional in his style. This has plus points and some drawbacks.

Here it works best when conveying the feelings of the characters in the tale - and how many sports books with their emphasis on statistics manage to avoid feelings completely? - but sometimes makes this a confusing read. the narrative sometimes slides forward or back a year or so, sometimes with no 'signpost' for the reader, and some quoted remarks from the players involved are hard to interpret.

The Hughes in this book is an interesting character. I saw enough of Hughes in the early 80s to understand that claims of a potential to rival Vivian Richards might not be such an exaggeration. Everyone agrees that he was a nice guy, open and engaging, with a boyish charm. But he seems to have accidentally p*ssed off nearly everyone, even his supporters. He seemed to be able to close himself off in his own world, ignoring friction and upset until in the end they overwhelmed him. The behaviour described here by Lillee and Marsh was inexcusable in a team sport. However much you might disapprove of the choice of the captain, if you actively undermine him, you undermine the team, and Marsh especially should have put the team before his captaincy ambitions.

Certainly not a dull book, and a great story that I hadn't been too familiar with (I'm in the UK). If the style was a little less impressionistic and easier to understand, I would have given it more stars - it has lots of good things in it. More strongly recommended than 3 stars might indicate.
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