Gerald Howat, Cricket's Second Golden Age: The Hammond -Bradman Years

Gerald Howat, Cricket's Second Golden Age: The Hammond -Bradman Years

Post by cricketisl.. » Wed, 02 Feb 2005 16:59:35

I am about to rent out this book from bcl, hope its a good read.


Book Reviews 118
Gerald Howat, Cricket's Second Golden Age: The Hammond -
Bradman Years (London: Hodder & Stoughton, 1989). Appendices,
illus., index pp. 300. 14.95.

Few will dispute the claim for the period between 1890 and
1914 as the Golden Age of Cricket - a period which according to
Gerald Howat represented:the great watershed in modern history - when
the inheritors of the Grace tradition shared in his Indian
summers in the 1890s and offered their own Olympic cricket to a late
Victorian and Edwardian public...a 'golden age' of great names -
Fry, MacLaren, Ranjitsinhji, Trumper, Hill, Barnes; of lordly authority
- Hawke welding his professionals into a formidable Yorkshire side; of
style and elegance - the classical
off-drive; and of experiment - Bosanquet and the googly.

Howat's own claim, that the three decades between 1920 -
when Walter Hammond debuted for Gloucestershire, and 1949, when
Don Bradman made his last appearance for South Australia - was
Cricket's Second Golden Age, is equalling compelling. Beside
Hammond and Bradman, whose performances between 1928 and
1947 'went a long way to determining the outcomes of each series
between their countries', the period was graced by England's
Sutcliffe, Hobbs, Hutton, Woolley, Leyland, Tate, Larwood and
Verity, Australia's Kippax, Jackson, Ponsford, McCabe, Oldfield,
Gregory, Mailey, Grimmett and O'Reilly, the West Indian pair
Constantine and Headley, and South Africa's Cameron. Not a bad
twenty-two. Lordly authority was less evident than in the preceding
period, though Emmott Robinson's captaincy of Yorkshire
successful than Hawke's' but there was no shortage of was more
style and elegance - Kippax and McCabe spring immediately to mind; and
experiment, both on the field - with Bodyline - and off the field -
with radio - were in good supply.

The Second Golden Age is a grand tour of regional and
international cricket throughout the world. All the test playing
nations are covered - both their domestic and international
competitions. Regionally, Yorkshire's ascendancy among the
counties was rarely challenged, while NSW and Victoria were rivals
for the Sheffield Shield. At the national level, tests between
Australia and England were the only matches of consequence. South
Africa, the West Indies, New Zealand and India toured but were hardly
taken seriously. Wisden dismissed the 1928 West Indian tour of England
observing 'Everyone was compelled to realise that the playing of Test
matches between England and the West Indies was a mistake'. Who today
would dispute such a claim?

My one complaint about this book is that it tries to cover too
much in just 281 pages. This is not a book for the casual reader.
Howat admits to a cricketing career going back to 1936, and, with a
number of cricket biographies under his belt - including Warner,
Hammond, Constantine and Hutton - is a mine of information on his
subject. Unfortunately, far too often he assumes his reader will have a
similar wealth of detail and knowledge on the period. Often tours are
treated with reference to just one or two or three matches of perhaps a
five test series. Without a library of Wisden's at hand to flesh out
the tantalising detail, The Second Golden Age often is a frustrating

Having said that, I must quickly add that The Second Golden
Age will stand in the first line of cricket books alongside Birley's
The Willow Wand and James' Cricket: A History of the Game. An
excellent addition to the collector's library but not one for the
reader making their first foray into the field.
Martin Sharp