by Colin Shindler

Published by Pitch Publishing
A2 Yeoman Gate, Yeoman Way
Worthing, Sussex BN13 3QZ


Pages: 320

MRP: £19.99

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Rewind to 1968 when the England tour to South Africa was called off because the South African government would not allow Basil D'Oliveira in to the country. Much has been written about this episode.

Move on to 1970 - well, earlier for readers of Barbed Wire and Cucumber Sandwiches - when South Africa was due to tour England. How much has been written on this? I have a library of some 1400 cricket books and I cannot pinpoint or remember much which has been written on the subject, certainly not an entire book.

Brought out to coincide with the fiftieth anniversary, Colin Schindler has put together a most admirable book which looks at the events of the tour which wasn't both politically, socially and with a sporting context. It is by its very nature not a match-by-match account. After many protests and pressure for the tour to be cancelled after demonstrations took place during the 1969/70 South Africa rugby tour of England, the cricket tour was eventually cancelled shortly before the South African cricketers were due to arrive.

After going through the M.C.C. Archives, Colin Shindler has been able to let the reader know the differences of opinion between M.C.C., the government and the campaigners of the Stop the Seventy Tour which caused such division for many months before the tour was due to take place. Drawing on the social side, he recounts how attitudes had changed during the preceding few years and how demonstrations and protests had become more apparent in other countries. The policing and barbed wire costs required - and who and how it would be paid for - make for alarming reading.

Barbed Wire and Cucumber Sandwiches compares the division of views for the South African cricketers' visit with the more recent Brexit vote. On a further political yet sporting event, the 1970 Football World Cup is played out against the backdrop of a General Election in June 1970, called by the incumbent Labour government. It was anticipated that an England win to follow their 1966 triumph would return Labour to power. In the event, England lost to Germany and the Tories were later returned to power.

Peter Hain, now Lord Hain, came to prominence as the founder of the Stop the Seventy Tour (STST), before becoming a Labour MP and is one of the book's pivotal figures.

There are cricket reports in the book, though. At the eleventh hour, a series of five Tests between England and a Rest of the World XI - which included some of the South African cricketers due to play for their own country - was arranged. The status of the Tests was subsequently rescinded but how nice recently to read - after Barbed Wire and Cucumber Sandwiches had been published - that Alan Jones, the prolific Glamorgan opener who played in the First Test against the Rest of the World XI, was presented with his cap last month at the age of 81.

Barbed Wire and Cucumber Sandwiches is an engrossing read and quite the definitive account of the tour which wasn't.