The M.C.C. Tour of South Africa 1956-57. By Charles Fortune.
Many cricket writers do not yet seem to have realised that an aggregation of accurate and sensible day-to-day reports will not make a satisfactory cricket book, any more than the bound volumes of The Times will make a con- temporary history. The mass of detail becomes wearisome and one misses the connecting strategic threads between one day and another and between one match and another. A Test series contains a continually shifting balance of power, which is only fully perceptible to the mind looking back over the whole. That is what Mr. Fortune, who is an extremely good reporter of cricket, a much less good writer of books about it, inevitably misses.
One sympathises, of course, with the desire to have a book on sale while the Test series is fresh in the public mind, though one is glad that some writers like Mr. Fingleton resist the tempta- tion. But there is no doubt that it leads to errors of fact. For instance : 'So Wardle ventured on an experiment. He bowled Waite a fast googly • • . it turned in just enough to find the edge. Cowdrey, close in at short-leg . . . hung on to the catch.'
Now anyone with much less knowledge of Cricket than Mr. Fortune can see that there is something wrong here. Wardle is a left-hander, Waite a right-handed batsman. Wardle's googly will therefore move towards the slips, and either the ball was not a googly or (which seems to be the correct answer) Cowdrey was really fielding on the off-side. W. H. Ferguson, universally known as 'Fergie, is a legendary figure of Test cricket, having travelled as scorer and baggage-master with innumerable Test teams. He has evidently been nursing some long grievances against distin- guished cricketers of the past. It is hard to tell how genuine these grievances are; one can only say that he gives the impression of being a per- fectly truthful man, but not a fully reliable wit- ness. Nevertheless, some of these anecdotes reveal a good deal of the hidden personal ten- sions of Test cricket, and we have had so many books saying what splendid chaps all cricketers are that this slightly unbalanced corrective will do no harm.
A. 0. J. COCKSHUT