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In the summer of 2011 Andrew Strauss's Test side seized back the world title that England had last held fifty three years before.
Unsurprisingly, England’s five years of Test match supremacy, during the 1950s, is commonly regarded as a ‘Golden Age’ in the history of English cricket. And yet despite the many heroic performances of its stalwart players such as Sir Len Hutton, Trevor Bailey, Godfrey Evans, Alec Bedser, and Jim Laker, this was a ‘troubled triumph’.
In Bent Arms and Dodgy Wickets, author Tim Quelch recounts the glorious and contentious events of half a century ago through the written memoirs of those who took part, for and against England. Among these witness accounts are those of Sir Len Hutton, Freddie Brown, Trevor Bailey, Jim Laker, Frank Tyson, Brian Statham, Ray Lindwall, Keith Miller, Alan Davidson, Ian Meckiff, Jackie McGlew, Roy McLean and Sir Everton Weekes. The view from the press box is also represented in the writing of John Arlott, ‘Jim’ Swanton and Neville Cardus.
The title refers not only to sporting controversies of the time – notably suspect bowling actions and poor and, possibly ‘patriotically prepared’, pitches – but also to the political sensitivities and class constraints impinging upon English cricketers’ lives as Britain declined rapidly as an imperial power during the immediate post War years.
Hampered by stultifying class snobbery, anachronistic fixations, an uncompetitive domestic game, and restricted coaching opportunities, England’s spell in the fitful Fifties sun was almost bound to be a temporary triumph. Moreover, those responsible for English cricket seemed so intoxicated by past triumphs that it took over half a century to restore what was lost at the Adelaide Oval in February 1959. As a former England football manager, the late Joe Mercer put it: “Tradition is a wonderful friend but a dangerous enemy.”
This book has been written to raise funds for Parkinson’s UK. All the author’s royalties will be donated to support the work of this charity as it seeks to combat this dreadful degenerative condition, assist its victims and those who care for them. Copies of the book can be purchased from many sources including Pitch Publishing, Waterstones, WH Smith and Amazon.
Tim Quelch is also the author of Underdog! 50 Years of Trials and Triumphs with Football’s Also-Rans which, like Bent Arms and Dodgy Wickets, was written to raise funds for the Alzheimer’s Society. A retired local government officer, Tim is a lifelong fan of Burnley FC, as evidenced by his previous titles which include Forever and Ever, centred around Burnley supporters’ recollections 1960-2000, and Never Had It So Good, about the Clarets’ incredible 1959/60 Football League title-winning triumph.
Hardcover: 304 pages
Publisher: Pitch Publishing Ltd (19 Nov 2012)
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