I was too young just, to see Tom Graveney bat save for one or two benefit matches and Old England XI appearances after his retirement. Andy Murtagh I certainly do recall as a "bit-part" player making up the numbers, without wishing to sound unfair, in the very entertaining and successful trophy winning Hampshire side I loved watching in the 1970s adorned by such luminaries of the game as Barry Richards, Gordon Greenidge, Andy Roberts, Trevor Jesty, David Turner and David O'Sullivan.
The only thing of particular note I recall of Andy Murtagh was a brilliant throw from the boundary to run out the Australian captain, Ian Chappell, in a tour match at Southampton. Since then I'd largely forgotten about him and never knew he'd become an outstanding author after a distinguished career teaching at Malvern College.
This book brilliantly bring's Tom Graveney's career and his batting style back to life and also perfectly captures the personality of Graveney, the man. The only time I came across him was in the old Nets Bar, now long demolished at The Oval when it was packed out at the close of play during a Test Match in the 1980s. It was about my turn to finally be served when Tom Graveney appeared with a few friends. The barman headed straight off to serve him instead of me but Tom quickly sent him back to me saying "That young man over there was here before me". I smiled in thanks to him but was too shy and embarrassed at the time to speak up and thank him properly. After all, this ground was the scene of some of his greatest innings and cricketing moments such as the match clinching the return of the Ashes in 1953. It was also a real free-for-all to get served.
I mentioned this experience later to one or two older friends of mine who immediately said "Tom's all right, he'd never have thought of doing anything else" or words to that effect I've always wanted to thank him in person since, though he's probably long forgotten what for him was an insignificant moment. I had one chance a few years later when he was behind me in a queue for tea in the pavilion at Bristol but decided I did not wish to intrude on his privacy as he was with a few friends.
It's sad to hear that he now needs to reside in a nursing home but of course the ravages of time get to all of us who last long enough. It's salutary to think he is now the final survivor from that Oval Ashes winning side of 1953 but this book brings those times and memories and others from his career back to life.
I purchased 4 or 5 other books at the same time on various subjects but this one quickly became my favourite to read, even though it was the last of my orders to arrive and I'd already started to read some of the others. Anyone who loves cricket will certainly find it a great pleasure to read. Well done, Andrew Murtagh.