All-India and Down Under by Richard Knott

All-India and Down Under
by Richard Knott

Published by:
Pitch Publishing
9 Donnington Park, 85 Birdham Road,
Chichester, West Sussex PO20 7AJ


Copies can be purchased from:

Pages: 256

MRP: £16.99


Richard Knott has written this excellent book which concentrates on two contrasting tours, the first by India in England followed by England's unsuccessful tour of Australia shortly afterwards. The secret to the book is maybe the date: tours soon after World War II with very little cricket played in the previous six or seven years. The landscape after the war was far different to that before and it is this which Richard describes so well.

Much had changed after 1939. The faces that appeared would maybe not have been there after the war's conclusion, those who were there were older and changed by war experiences and there were of course sadly those who might have been there but who were lost in the war.

Naturally, the war and its aftermath had its effect on the English players. Take, though, the Indian side which, as was customary in those days, took on a far lengthier tour than could be imagined these days at a time when all the players were aware of the likelihood of Partition, described in detail in the book. The civil unrest in their country must have had an effect on the players so far away playing cricket and facing arduous travel arrangements.

One of the book's major points is how John Arlott travelled with the Indian team and befriended them as they saw many English and Scottish cricket grounds. As a reminder of how long cricket tours were years ago, a brief resume of scores at the end of the book goes into the third page. England's later tour to Australia and New Zealand contained a similar number of matches.

All-India and Down Under covers both tours factually and interestingly although there the write-ups of the Tests are, in some cases, more modest. I suspect that this may be because the raison d'etre of the book is to show the background in England, Australia and India against the backdrop of war and Partition via the two tours.

There is something endearing in watching and following sport during difficult times. It now seems extraordinary to read how cricket was still played until almost the advent of war. Life in England was changing, people were unsure of their and the country's future and one would imagine that the game of cricket would pale into insignificance. How can a country's livelihood be compared with a disgruntled player arguing that he was given out lbw to a ball pitching marginally outside leg stump or claiming that a catch was taken on the half volley? Keith Miller's well-known comparison with cricket and war - "pressure is having a Messerschmitt up your arse " - maybe speaks volumes.

Richard brilliantly describes all countries involved in these two tours both before and after the war. One can see from the bibliography how well and meticulously researched this book has been. For me, the most fascinating part of the book is the information about the cricketers, their backgrounds, their war lives and much else besides which paints an excellent insight.

Partition is a lengthy subject and not one which can be remotely covered in a few pages. All-India and Down Under is a pretty good place to start for a decent overview of events. Some players representing All-India on their 1946 tour of England would, a few years later, be part of the newly-formed Pakistan side.

England's tour of Australia was one of the Goodwill Tours and one which, students of the game will know, did not start ideally when a struggling Don Bradman was given not out to a slip catch early on in his innings of 187 in the First Test which led to some choice words from England's captain, Wally Hammond. Like the English and Indian players, Richard has unearthed much of interest about the Australian players and, like the Indian tour which he intertwines expertly with the Australian tour, we learn much about the country and its players. The tour would prove to be the end of Hammond's distinguished career and much too can be learned about him in the book.

There is so much more of interest that I could comment on about All-India and Down Under but, for anyone wanting an in-depth knowledge of these two cricket tours played out in a changing world still coming to grips after World War II, this is a spectacularly good book to read. Congratulations to Richard Knott and Pitch Publishing.